Discover The Merci & Friendship Train Story By Video:
Visit The World War Two Merci (Gratitude) Train!
John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Following the German occupation in WWII, the citizens of France were in need of help. In October of 1947, American citizens were asked to donate food and other relief supplies to aid in the very survival of the French people. Organizers arranged for a Friendship Train to travel across the U.S. and pick up supplies. This was not a government project. No money was spent. Everything was donated. In the end, over 700 boxcars filled with $40 million dollars worth of supplies (unheard of at the time) were shipped to France. It was a pure humanitarian giving of the people of the United States.
The French, like JFK, realized that the highest appreciation was not to offer simple words of gratitude, but to give back. In response, 2 years later, France returned the sentiment and sent 49 boxcars filled with handmade and personal thank you gifts donated by the citizens of France to the American people. One car was sent to every state in the Union at the time. Gifts included personal artwork, dishes, silverware, hand sewn wedding dresses, dolls, and more. A handwritten note accompanied each offering. These boxcars became known as the Merci or Gratitude Train. Florida’s boxcar is located at Veteran’s Park in Holly Hill.
1947 Friendship Train Facts:
A Note On Every Package:
All races and creeds make up the vast melting pot of America, and in a democratic and Christian spirit of good will toward men, we, the American people, have worked together to bring this food to your doorsteps, hoping that it will tide you over until your own fields are again rich and abundant with crops.”
Also on every label were these words, “This gift is sent to you by a tag which had these lines: ‘first and last name and address of donor’.
This message was written in Italian and French and printed beside the American flag. (Reference: http://www.thefriendshiptrain1947.org/)
1949 Merci Train facts:
Where To Find The Florida Merci Train:
The Daytona Beach or Florida area Merci Train is located at 1065 Ridgewood Avenue in Holly Hill Florida which is just north of Daytona Beach. The actual address is 1065 Ridgewood Avenue Daytona Beach Florida 32117.