Even today French locals, other Europeans and Americans find themselves drawn to the Meuse-Argonne region of France. Once drawn there, many return time and again; often working on a multi-year research or preservation projects. In this irregular interview series, the webmaster hopes to introduce readers to some of these individuals and their labors of love.
This month’s featured individual is unique in that he is the son of a U.S. serviceman who married a French woman and who was stationed in France pre 1967. As a result he spent much of his early life in the region; and he has many relatives in the region.
1) What are your name, nationality and occupation?
Michael Grams–American Nationality Military Museum Director in Volo, Illinois.
Tour Guide for French battlefields, Chateaux and overall French Culture which includes Wineries and Restaurants
2) Which languages do you speak, and how fluently do you speak them?
English and French, Fluently; Some Spanish and German
3) When was your first visit to the Meuse-Argonne?
Lived there off and on since born in Verdun
4) When did you really find yourself drawn to the Meuse-Argonne?
Always loved the countryside
5) What is your primary interest in the region?
Enjoying the French way of life
6) Approximately how many times and/or how often do you visit the Meuse-Argonne?
Yearly since 1982
7) What do you do when you visit?
Visiting and studying historical sites of both world wars, religious historical research, castle hopping, spelunking, antiquing and spending time with the locals; which invariably leads to sharing a good meal together!
8) What research or preservation projects are you working on currently?
Battle of the St.MIhiel Salient-start to finish. Working with the Village of St.Mihiel to open a Military Museum chronicling World War One through 1967
9) What research or preservation projects have you completed in the past?
Roman influence in France, Templar Knights, French Culture and Government
10) What is your favorite spot in the Meuse-Argonne, and why?
My Cousin’s backyard in Rambucourt looking towards the Côtes de la Meuse. I can almost touch them, the American Military Monument of Mont Sec is clearly visible, and the air is always fresh and clean.
11) History aside, what is your favorite thing to do in the Meuse-Argonne?
Again, Eat, Drink (not in excess), be Merry and show people subjects of their interest in the area
12) Schedule permitting, would you consider being a tour guide for individuals or groups traveling to the sector?
Absolutely-I love to share my knowledge and insights of the area.
13) How can readers contact you for assistance or for more details?
[email protected] or call 847-445-3584
14) Any other comments?
Born in Verdun, raised and schooled in St. Mihiel and Metz until age 14. I was the last American kid living in Metz in 1972. Having Family in the Meuse-Moselle Departments allows me to really get to know not only the local area, but the Culture and People. I am currently working with the Village of St. Mihiel to create a military musum within the town itself.
Also, I have a vast background and knowledge of Wine and Spirits by having my American–based Wine Education and Promotional Company for the last 16 years, which I enjoy incorporating into tours.
I feel the main objectives while people are on vacation is to research subjects of interest in a relaxed atmosphere, which will automatically increase the fun and enjoyment factors.
There is so much to see, do and enjoy in Northern France!