Franco-American Veterans oral histories DVD

Merci beaucoup Kathryn Vanaria!

BANGOR, Me- In a 13 minute video, the highlights of three Franco-American veterans oral histories were creatively produced by the talented Katheryn Vanaria, who is the video creator for The Legacy Project, in Bangor.

Kathryn Vanaria

Kathryn Vanaria (left) met with me in Bangor to present the DVD she created, a composite of three Franco-American veterans’ oral histories.

Vanaria created a composite version of oral histories given by three veterans for the Franco-American Collection (FAC), at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College (USM LAC). The originals were recorded by Mary Rice-DeFosse, a French professor at Bates College. All three veterans participated in the Franco-American Veterans digitization project at the USM LAC, where the Franco-American Collection is part of the permanent archives. They told first person stories about their military service on the video.  The three veterans are Mr. Joseph LePage, who is a World War II veteran; Mr. Donald Robataille, a Korean era veteran; and Mr. Roger Martel, a Vietnam veteran. In the composite video, the veterans briefly talk about how serving in the military impacted on their adult lives.

Three Franco-American veterans DVD

Three Franco-American Veterans DVD with fleur de lis cover.

Vanaria’s talented video work was a volunteer effort to support the legacy of veterans, because she is also an army veteran, who served during Operation Desert Storm, also known as the First Gulf War.  “I hope my video editing brings honor and dignity to the veterans interviewed,” said Vanaria.  Yes, indeed! (Mais oui!).

I first met Vanaria and observed her creative work through The Legacy Project, with Hospice of Eastern Maine.  We met at the popular Dysart’s, just off the interstate in Hermon, where she gave me the final veterans’ DVD, presented in a case jacket decorated with a bold fleur de lis, the iconic symbol of Franco-Americans, on the cover.

“Three Franco-American Veterans”, their composite histories, will be among the exhibits in the May 23, 2017, public program at the USM LAC campus, in Lewiston, beginning with a reception at 5PM.  Their stories will be among dozens organized in a presentation titled “Franco-Americans in International Service”, a capstone of 100 years of service.  Included in the presentation will be a retrospective of the past 100 years of military wars and campaigns where Franco-American veterans have served. All items in the exhibit are a collection of documentations, photographs and memorabilia contributed by the veterans or their families for the purpose of digitizing the data into the Franco-American Collection’s archives. This historic project is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Additionally, presentations on May 23rd, will be given by Franco-Americans who served.  Colonel Donald Dubay, US Army, retired, is a native of Lewiston and Auburn, who will speak about his career in international diplomatic service and during the Vietnam War.  In a panel discussion, Colonel Todd Desgrosseilliers, US Marine Corps, retired, who is a native of Auburn, will speak about his service in Iraq, especially during the Battle of Mosel.  Serving as the Master of Ceremonies for the program is Major Adam Cote, a native of Sanford, who served with the Army in Iraq, Libya, Bosnia, Kuwait and Afghanistan.  Dubay and Desgrosseilliers are both graduates of Edward Little High School (ELHS), in Auburn. In fact, they have been invited and agreed to speak to the junior ROTC students from ELHS and Lewiston High School, on May 23rd, in a morning session. Mr. Eric Gray, assistant principle of ELHS, is organizing the presentation to help educate the students about leadership and military service.

Severin Beliveau, of Portland and the Honorary French Consul to Maine, will speak about his father, Judge Albert Beliveau, who served in the military during World War One, in France.

This historic program on May 23rd will be an important contribution to the patriotic history of Franco-Americans in Maine and a tribute to all who served in the US military.

May 23 exhibit Veterans French dictionary

A French Dictionary used by World War II veterans prepared for the May 23 exhibit

In the Franco-American Collection’s large repository of Franco-American history are archival materials about local history, government, religion, language, education, industry, sports and the arts.

The mission of the University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection is to preserve and promote the culture and heritage of Maine’s Franco-American population.

The Collection focuses on Lewiston-Auburn and other areas of Maine, with additional regional materials providing a link to the wider contexts of French North America.

More information about USM LAC FAC is at this link.

Contact Janet Roberts for information about the May 23, 2017 program which is free and open to the public, with a reception beginning at 5 PM in Lewiston.

Janet Roberts Coordinator, Franco-American Collection
USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College 51 Westminster Street Lewiston, ME 04240

(207) 753-6545 Web site:

Or Doris Bonneau, president of FAC, at


Juliana L'Heureux

About Juliana L'Heureux

Juliana L’Heureux is a free lance writer who publishes news, blogs and articles about Franco-Americans and the French culture. She has written about the culture in weekly and bi-weekly articles, for the past 27 years.