La Vie en France #21: “The Bug” and a Twist on “A Pirate Looks at Forty”

Today is 1 November, 2017.  The Webmaster’s six-month stay in France ends in two weeks.  One would think he should be longing to go home.  However, that is only partially true; as part of his heart always stays here on the Meuse-Argonne battlefield of France.  He has been bitten by “the bug.”  In his case, it started on his third battlefield tour in 1994, when he participated in his first work weekend with the Deutsches Erinnerungskommittee Argonnerwald.  Since then, he has been drawn to the Meuse-Argonne for reasons he cannot easily explain–other than, perhaps, that it represented the largest American – German battle of the war.


Others have gotten “the bug” too.  Each of the “People of the Meuse-Argonne” written in this blogpost been bitten by “the bug.”  Their stories can be easily read on this site.  For many Europeans, it starts with a simple vacation visit to the region.  For many Americans, it starts with a battlefield pilgrimage to find out more about one’s ancestors.  Valerie Young was bitten after finding details on the life of her maternal grandfather in her mother’s belongings.  This was followed by two battlefield trips so far.


“The bug” is not limited to the Meuse-Argonne Region.  German Detlef Bussat, of Expeditions Hartmannsweilerkopf, has been bitten by “the bug;” but for him it is in the Vosges Mountains along the Franco – German border.  He spoke of it as a virus; when he and the Webmaster met recently.  For most British friends, it is generally, but not always, Ypres or the Somme.


There seems to be no cure for “the bug,” and the only treatment seems to be frequent trips to the battlefields.  Shortly before celebrating this 50th birthday in the Meuse-Argonne in 2013 the Webmaster heard Jimmy Buffet’s “A Pirate Looks at 40” in a different way–Using the lyrics below.  The Webmaster is no song-writer, but those bitten by “the bug” will understand:





Mother, Mother Argonne, I have heard your call

Wanted to see your tunnels and trenches since 1994

You’ve seen it all, you’ve seen it all…

Yes I am a soldier, one hundred years too late

The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder

I’m an over-forty victim of fate

Arriving too late, arriving too late…



Skip the part on smuggling and younger women…