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Facial Hair Friday: Vive le Goatee!

"Wearing a civilian hat salvaged along the way, a bearded GI amuses both GI's and French civilians as he tries to make himself understood with the aid of a French dictionary in the town of Orleans, France., 08/19/1944" (112-SGA-44(11702); ARC 531502)

In 1885, the French ship Isere arrived in New York City. On board the ship were the pieces of an enormous woman, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States in recognition of many decades of friendship. These pieces (paid for by the French) were reassembled over four months on an enormous pedestal (paid for by the American people but mostly by Joseph Pulitzer). The statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World” was dedicated on October 28, 1886.

In honor of Lady Liberty’s arrival and the ideals of friendship and democracy, today’s featured facial hair comes to us from France. It’s still an American-grown goatee, though!

This image was taken August, 19, 1944, just as the Liberation of Paris had begun. The beaches of Normandy had been stormed several weeks earlier. These GIs were in the town of Orleans, France, and they were facing a language barrier. And so this young soldier is attempting to communicate with the French civilians by way of a French dictionary.

He’s abandoned his helmet and is wearing a hat at a jaunty angle (the original caption notes he is “wearing a civilian hat salvaged along the way”). He is facing away from the camera, but we can still see enough of his face to see he’s got longer sideburns than any of his GI companions. And although the caption calls him a “bearded GI,” it looks like he has a goatee—though all of his fellow soldiers are clean shaven.

He seems to have taken the lead—his fellow GIs are standing behind the group of young French people who are listening to him intently. But both GIs and civilians are smiling, even if a bit bemusedly.

So whether you are trying to communicate with the aid of a dictionary or a giant copper-skinned statue or the accoutrements of a hat and goatee, here’s to trying to speak the language of friendship to each other!

Deed of Gift for the Statue of Liberty, July 4, 1884 (ARC 595444)

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