Hollins University Professor of English Marilyn Moriarty will deliver the keynote address at the POW/MIA Awareness Day ceremony on Saturday, September 22, at 11 a.m. at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Admission to this special event is free.
According to the ceremony organizers, “The objective of POW/MIA Awareness Day is to ensure America remembers its responsibility to stand behind those who serve our nation and do everything possible to account for those who do not return.”
Moriarty’s talk, “Andreé: A Name on the Prisoners’ List,” draws from the ongoing research she’s conducting for a memoir, an early draft of which was short-listed for the 2018 Faulkner-Wisdom Narrative Nonfiction Book Award. Her study has focused on her mother’s experience with the French underground during World War II.
Moriatry says the impetus for her research came from an old photo. “A 1945 photograph addressed to my father, ‘With love, Liliane,’ put a false name to my mother Andreé’s face. Decades later, that name became the key to unraveling her wartime activities.” With the assistance of newly-found French cousins, she discovered that even though her mother did not wear a uniform, “she was arrested by the Gestapo, spent six months in solitary confinement, was tried by the Wehrmacht, and served two years of a four-year sentence before the war ended.”
The memoir project has produced some spin-off work. An essay, “Swerves,” won the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom Gold Medal and was reprinted in the 2016 anthology, Borderlines and Crossings: Writing the Motherland. Another essay, “You Are Where You Eat,” appears in text and audio on The Dirty Spoon. The essay will also be published on the France-Amérique website in early October.
Moriarty adds that invitation to speak at the POW/MIA Awareness Day ceremony came through a Hollins connection: April Cheek-Messier ’94, M.A.T. ’02, who is president of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.