Merci Train - Vermont

The Merci boxcar at the Vermont National Guard Library & Museum
The Merci boxcar at the Vermont National Guard Library & Museum
Vermont Flag

789 National Guard Road
Colchester, VT 05446

Richard F. Lorenz
President Vermont National Guard Library & Museum
789 National Guard Road
Colchester, VT 05446
802-338-3360 - E-mail

There is no knowledge of any existing gifts

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Vermont Historical Society

Workers prepare a boxcar from the "Merci Train" for display after it arrived in Montpelier in 1949. The train, which brought gifts from the French in thanks for U.S. help in rebuilding their economy after the war, carried a banner that read: "Merci Train de la Reconnaissance Francaise." Among the gifts were paintings, books and dolls. Photo from the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus (1999) A Vermont Century: Photographs and Essays from the Green Mountain State. p89.

Vermont Merci boxcar under restoration

Vermont Merci boxcar under restoration

A Vermont woman's recollections of the arrival of the Merci train in the U.S. in 1949

From Brigitte Helzer:

As a new 7 year old immigrant, having arrived with my parents from France in Dec. 1948, I was in New York at the time of the Merci Train arrival in February of 1949. When the city of New York decided to have a parade to welcome and receive the NY boxcar, I was "volunteered" by the local Alsatian organization to be in the parade with my French costume. I don't remember much about the parade. I think I was mostly in the celebration at City Hall Plaza where the picture was taken. The boy that was with me was the son of friends of the family and did not speak French. His mother may have been French. I'm so intrigued by the story and what has happened to all the articles in the box cars. It was a pleasure to find your web site. I do have some memories of the American GI's liberating our village from the Germans and of learning my first English words, "Chocolate" and "Chewing gum", which those GI's were generously sharing with us children. The GI's would often take my picture when I was in my same regional costume I wore at the parade, and which I was proud wear. I also remember being on the ship that brought us to America in 1948, and how awe struck I was at all the food they served in the dining room; I had never seen so much food. I don't specifically remember the Friendship Train food being delivered in the Alsace region of France where we lived in 1947, but my parents remembered getting food from the soldiers, and were grateful to the Americans. I live in Vermont now and am very pleased to find your web site about this history that I lived through, and also pleased to see that the Vermont boxcar still exists; I plan to go see it at some point.

Thank You, Merci,
Brigitte Kibler Helzer

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