Photo prise 15 Mai 2005 au Chateau de Vair, Nantes, France. I was quite surprised when my French cousins put up an American Flag behind me. One of my cousins, Bertrand Champenois, let out three cheers for us Americans who were visiting.
This photo was taken shortly after I had spoken in French and had discussed a little story. The story is that when I was a young Marine Corps Private, I was departing Naval Air Station Memphis for a weekend home in Fort Worth, Texas, when the taxi cab driver, who was a Frenchman, saw my seabag with my name on it, emblazoned with "CHAMPENOIS". He asked me, "How do you say your nomme?" I said, "My what?" He said, "Your nomme, your nomme", pointing to the seabag.
I then pronounced it as "Champenoy", which is how I had always heard it pronounced in Texas. He then said some very important words to me: "From now on you will say "Champenois" (SHAMPENWA) and you will be proud of it." I have tried to say it properly since that time and also realized that there was more to this name than I had previously known. I will never forget that Frenchman, nor his pride in being French. I am also proud to bear this name and desire that I should always uphold the highest principles and honor the name, "Champenois", throughout the rest of my life.