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Voiture Locale 265

This is the Maryland Car from The Merci Train. It was part of a train of 49 French railroad box cars filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from at least that many individual French citizens.  They were showing their appreciation for the more than 700 American box cars of relief goods sent to them by (primarily) individual Americans in 1948. 

 

The Montgomery County Historical Society has four Merci Train items in our collection: a flax wheel, a miniature portrait of Marie Antoinette, a small model of the Arc de Triomphe, and a small wood sculpture depicting two people from Brittany. According to a newspaper article from 1949, the Maryland boxcar items were placed on exhibit at the Enoch Pratt library, Baltimore; representatives from the Society "bid on" these four items (the bidding process isn't described). Unfortunately, there are norecords that indicate where other items were deposited.

 

For more information on the Merci Train visit www.mercitrain.org

What is the 40 & 8?

La Societe des Quarante Hommes at Huit Chevaux is an independent, by invitation, honor organization of male and female U. S. veterans, more commonly known as the Forty & Eight.

The Forty & Eight is committed to charitable and patriotic aims.  Our purpose is to uphold and defend the United States Constitution, to promote the well being of veterans and their widows and orphans, and to actively participate in selected charitable endeavors, which include programs that promote child welfare and nurse's training. 

The titles and symbols of the Forty & Eight reflect its First World War origins.  Americans were transported to the battle front on French trains within boxcars stenciled with a 40/8, denoting its capacity to hold either forty men or eight horses.  This uncomfortable mode of transportation was familiar to all who fought in the trenches; a common small misery among American soldiers who thereafter found 40/8 a lighthearted symbol of the deeper service, sacrifice and unspoken horrors of war that bind all who have borne the battle.

The Forty & Eight was founded in 1920 by American veterans returning from France.  Originally an arm of The American Legion, the Forty & Eight became an independent and separately incorporated veteran's organization in 1960.  Membership is by invitation of honorably discharged veterans and honorably serving members of the United States Armed Forces