CULLMAN, UNITED STATES: She has seen more than a dozen presidents carve their place in US history since she arrived from France but, at the grand age of 95, Jeanette Boudreaux has made some memories of her own. And she has one last ambition: to witness Donald Trump returned to office.
When Boudreaux arrived in Louisiana from Normandy in the spring of 1946, the Trumps were still weeks away from welcoming the future 45th president into the world. But he has grown into a statesman that “beats them all,” she says.
Boudreaux’s American odyssey is at its heart a love story: she arrived on a ship that reunited young French women with American GIs they had fallen for after the D-Day landings.
She was to marry her sweetheart — Louisiana native Allen Boudreaux — in the Deep South, but spoke almost no English.
“All I could say, it was ‘I love you,’ stuff like that. That’s it,” she recalled, switching back and forth between the two languages.
“I learned from cartoons and television.”
Despite her new surroundings and a “jealous” and “wicked” mother-in-law, Boudreaux says she adapted well to life in Louisiana, a state with a strong French heritage.
“It was different, but I was still happy to come here. We were dying of hunger in France,” she recalled.
“I saw a lot of things during the war. I was 14 when it was declared. My mother was disabled, so I had to take care of her.”
Boudreaux — whose US career was in the hospitality industry — was working in a factory when the Americans arrived and pushed the Germans back from her hometown near Rouen.
That’s where in 1945 she met Allen, who had come from Louisiana to help liberate France.
They were married the following year and built a life in his home state with their three children, until he died in his 30s. Jeanette returned to her native Normandy only occasionally for short visits to family.
“I feel more American than French,” she said. “This is where I have made my life. I’ve been here for 75 years.”
Of all the men she has seen behind the desk in the Oval Office, starting with Harry Truman, Donald Trump is without doubt the best, she says.
“Reagan was good, but this one beats them all,” Boudreaux told AFP from her daughter’s basement in Cullman, Alabama, where she is staying after two hurricanes damaged her home in Louisiana.
“He is superb,” she adds, saying she was won over by the frank talk of the New York real estate tycoon.
“Whatever he promises, he does. The ones we had before, they didn’t do anything for us.”
Outspoken Boudreaux says she doesn’t have time for Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
“There is something with that man, he has made a lot of mistakes,” she said, concluding that a Democratic victory could plunge the United States into chaos.
“They do worse for us. Around my age, I think of my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren,” she said from behind the blue mask that she paired with a matching striped sweater.
“Democrats, they want to give everything for free, but after taxes are raised,” she complained.
Boudreaux repeats the kind of conservative rhetoric often seen on Fox News, to which she is frequently tuned. And she is proud to own a signed photograph of the president.
“She was a Trump supporter from the beginning, even before I was,” her daughter Jacqueline Schendel tells AFP. “I didn’t vote for him at the (2016) primaries.”
And despite unsteady knees, Jeanette intends to go vote for Trump in person on November 3. She does not trust postal voting.