In 2016, sisters Carolyn Cole Kingston and Diana Cole had the honor to be part of a French documentary about historian and tour guide Gilles Lagin. Their grandfather, Major Edward B. Cole U.S.M.C., commander of the 6th machine gun battalion, was mortally wounded in the battle of Belleau Wood. His heroic actions won him many medals and commendations, including the “Croix de Guerre,” and he was the first individual from World War I to have a Navy war ship named after him. This battle remains a founding element in the history of the Marine Corps, nicknamed Teufelhund or “Devil Dogs”, for their courage and persistence.
Major Cole’s story is one of three stories in this film that follows an American family’s pilgrimage. In the documentary, Carolyn and Diana retrace their grandfather’s steps leading up to the battle of Belleau Wood. For everyone—the family, the guide, and even the land—this trip is an occasion to re-live a page of shared history. Gilles Lagin has spent his life since childhood roaming the land in and around Belleau Wood. Gilles was made an honorary Marine in 2008 in recognition of the lifetime of memories and research he shares with American families whose search for roots lead them to the battlefields of France. The personal impact of his work on descendants is beautifully presented in this film. Produced for the Centennial, the film is a moving tribute to Major Cole and to all those who served in the “war to end all wars.” French, with English subtitles.
Carolyn Kingston and Diana Cole grew up in Lexington, and their father, Charles H. Cole II, the elder son of Major Cole, had his architectural office in Lexington Center. They will be available to introduce the film, and answer questions about their unique experience.