I come from a small village in France called La Roque d’Anthéron. I left it when I was 14 years old but I know I will return someday. I know I will because my last name is deeply attached to this town.
It is attached to this town because of one man: Paul Onoratini. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, my great-grandfather, a French Resistant during WWII and most importantly he was mayor of La Roque d’Anthéron for thirty years. During his time in office, he did a lot of things to help my village grow and prosper. One of these things was to create the International Festival of Piano. This festival is still active today and attracts thousands of people every year from everywhere around Europe.
Though he had many amazing projects, I believe that his most criticized one, was his best one. In 1962, Paul Onoratini was faced with a decision that all other mayors in France were faced with: what should we do with the harkis? Do we leave them in camps or do we offer them a better living situation? My great-grandfather chose the latter option.
In 1962 he opened “La Baume” which was a forest hamlet just outside of La Roque d’Anthéron that housed many harkis families. Unlike most other towns in France, Paul Onoratini fought tooth and nail in order for his town to accept these people into their community. Even though it was an uphill battle, all of the families finally made their way into the town and into the society.
To this day, his decision to help the harkis families is still looked down upon. However, this makes him a hero in my eyes. I could not be prouder of my last name and of being from La Roque d’Anthéron.