Sgt. Tami VanZandt, Spc. Forrest Krenke and Spc. Ray Ortega, all assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, pose for a photograph with their French hosts before driving to their home June 4, 2014.

While dignified and solemn ceremonies today mark the courage and loss of life 70 years ago during the D-Day invasion, the long-lasting partnership between the U.S. and France is also on display. This friendship dates back to the American Revolution in 1780 when French troops arrived to help their American allies and George Washington to win their bid for independence.

50 French families opened their homes – and their hearts – this week to American soldiers visiting France to commemorate the Normandy Landing. The hosts showed the young Americans how well the French treat their guests.

“I had such an amazing time,” said Spc. Jessika Hurst, serving with the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard. “They just kept coming out with more and more food. It was crazy, yet so delicious.”

”We did this so our child could meet an American Soldier,” said Stephanie Folloit, a mother of two who opened her home up to four Soldiers. “He loves American Soldiers. He loves to read about them, he really looks up to them. But we also did this to say ‘thank you’ for what your grandfathers did for us.”

Folloit said she hoped her family could experience the visits again. “This was a great night,” she said. “I am happy to have met these Americans tonight.”

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