Painting for peace
Ste Mere Eglise
Madame Renaud


On Saturday, June 4th, during the annual week long ceremonies honoring D-Day Veterans in Sainte Mere Eglise, founding "Sister City" of Locust Valley; Kaye Weninger was the recipient of the first Maureen Kennedy Award, established to honor those Americans and French who have done most to promote positive Franco/American relations.  Kaye shared the $10,000 prize with the A.V.A. (Amitie Veterans Americains) a group-founded post WWII by Simone Renaud, wife of the wartime Mayor of Sainte Mere Eglise and the subject of the recently completed documentary "Mother of Normandy".  
The Award ceremony was hosted by the Contesse Dorothea de la Houssaye at her family Chateau L'Isle Marie just outside of Sainte Mere Eglise, which had been occupied by the German Army during the war.  Maurice Renaud, youngest son of Alexandre and Simone Renaud, who established the award in memory of Maureen Kennedy, a staunch patriot and advocate for encouraging the strengthening of the bonds of historic and necessary friendship between France and America, presented the award to Kaye.  

Maurice Renaud speech  to honor Kaye:      
There are some who perform public service to great fanfare and recognition; others work steadfastly, altruistically, for long years accomplishing much for the common good without seeking praise or spotlight.  Kaye Weninger, like my own mother, is one of the latter. 
Kaye is all American.  Her mother was born and raised on a Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  She raised her eight children alone after her husband passed away in a nearby town of Mobridge.  As a young girl, Kaye, along with her sister, Jill, had the opportunity to work for two prominent families as nannies and they moved to the Long Island town of Locust Valley.  In the intervening years, they adopted the town as their own.  Kaye has done more for her adopted town than most who have even had a many generation family heritage there. 
As she studied for her degree at Parson’s School of Design, and the years passed she gained the respect of the townspeople of Locust Valley with her strong work ethic, always reliable; sense of responsibility and trustworthiness.  The children she helped to raise, along with their friends, still frequently seek her no nonsense advice and follow her like the pied piper. 
Amongst her many accomplishments, Kaye lobbied for two public grants to preserve, restore and maintain the now lovely public park in Locust Valley.  While maintaining a full time job as manager of the popular and immaculately kept clothing store, J. McLaughlin, she weaves a unifying thread in the community; raising the funds to install beautiful permanent town lampposts, and making sure the town’s flowers are planted, holiday decorations are provided, Christmas trees lighted, ceremonies observed and organized.
As a long time President of the Locust Valley Chamber of Commerce, she worked tirelessly in making sure Locust Valley was the beautifully maintained village while continuing to find new ways to promoted the downtown. Kaye is also is a director on the Matinecock Neighborhood Assocation,which she  was the chairperson who oversaw the refurbishment of the town’s American Legion Post which; is attended now with pride. She continues to work with the Veterans in the village and goes out of her way to help them with what they need done. This year she oversaw the Boys Scout Hut renovation under the direction of the MNA. Upon arriving in SME, Kaye talked about helping to renovate the old WWII monument next to the Fire Dept, all for the love of her community and country.
Since discovering the historic connection between Locust Valley and Sainte Mere Eglise, she has overseen the installation of a prominent permanent bronze plaque in the center of town commemorating “Operation Democracy” along with the poignant poem called “Locust Valley” written by my mother, Simone Renaud. Reminding the village we shouldn’t forget what this community did back in 1948 and how it all started in the hearts of everyday people and we should continue.
Last November, on Veterans Day, she arranged for a sign to be attached to Locust Valley’s own which says: Founding Sister Cities; Sainte Mere Eglise, Normandy, France, 1947, recongnizing how important history is.
Now, as the President of the newly rekindled Operation Democracy, she envisions a future of educational, cultural and community events exchange; activities honoring this historic Norman/American friendship; which will foster the enduring legacy of my mother to “Never Forget”
 Assisting him were committee members, including Colonel Keith Nightingale and Honorary Chairman Zane Schlemmer, a highly decorated American Veteran of the first wave of the invasion of Normandy in the 82nd airborne division who was honored at the 65th Anniversary of D-Day by both President Obama and President Nicholas Sarkozy who gave him the highest level of the Legion of Honor.  Attending the ceremony were dignitaries including the Mayor of Sainte Mere Eglise, Marc LeFevre and the Depute de la Manche, Dr. Claude Gatignol and the Count Gilbert de La Fayette, descendant of General LaFayette; also American Military officials including Major General David Blackledge.  
Officials of Sainte Mere Eglise expressed their eagerness to participate in future programs with Locust Valley/Oyster Bay in homage to the rediscovered historic friendship between our villages as manifested in "Operation Democracy".  Several of these French officials expressed their desire to continue to honor their heroes by now focusing the annual commemorations of D-Day on world peace as a way to leave the best legacy for the Veterans for their efforts in war against those who would threaten our freedoms.  
Kaye is spearheading the re-kindling of “Operation Democracy”, whose original mission was “to spread the concept of freedom and Democracy around the world”, and to aid children in war torn areas around the world.  After observing the efforts of Locust Valley on behalf of Sainte Mere Eglise, immediately following the war; President Eisenhower was inspired, and, on September 11, 1956, announced the federal program; "Sister Cities International." This program demonstrates that although in times of crisis, military action may be necessary, lasting peace is best maintained by developing the understanding of interpersonal relationship.
 Now that the remaining Veterans of WWII are nearly gone, the new not for profit Operation Democracy (501c-3) is poised to offer a practical path for our next generation to "Never Forget."  This $5,000 award will help to fund potential projects between the towns that will include student and faculty exchange, "Think Tank" events, visiting speakers, annual fundraisers (such as the recent Painting for Peace Art Show in Locust Valley and the Liberty Ball) led by the "next generation"... the new committee of "Operation Democracy."   
To participate please visit: www.operationdemocracy.com