We’re not sure how the World Cup final will end on Sunday, but, at least in Outagamie County, we know the victory will be sweet.
If Croatia wins on Sunday, as we hope, Judge John Des Jardins has agreed to provide French pastries (ooh la la) to the court judges and their staffs. Should France win, Judge Vince Biskupic will provide Croatian pastries (or as close as he – or his wife – can get) to the judges and their staffs.
They’ve also agreed that the judge representing the losing team will walk around the courthouse at noon on Thursday carrying the winning team’s flag.
Both men’s allegiance to their teams comes naturally.
Vince’s grandfather, Vinko Biskupic, emigrated to the United States from Croatia in 1923, and, when we traveled back to Croatia in 2006, we enjoyed meeting many members of his family who still live in and around Mala Mlaka.
Four years ago, our son Vinnie spent the summer there and the whole extended family treated him like royalty. Along with many other members of our family here and overseas, we’ve cheered Croatia through all of its nail-biting matches and we can’t wait to see them take on the French.
Vince, who hangs his giant Croatian flag from our balcony every year for Croatia’s Independence Day, has enjoyed seeing it above the porch throughout the tournament. He’s also planted smaller Croatian flags strategically throughout the county.
Turns out Judge Des Jardins also likes to hang his French flag outside his house. It’s there annually for Bastille Days, for the anniversary of his uncle’s death and also throughout this exciting World Cup.
John, whose name is etched in the Arc de Triomphe, has equally strong ties to France, especially since he took an emotional trip there with his family in 1991.
“What got me fired up about France is that my uncle’s (WWII pilot Earl Des Jardins) plane crashed in France and they built a monument to him and invited us to celebrations all over the coast,” he said. “They drove us up to the site in vintage World War II American vehicles and the French Air Force Band played. We stayed right on the expanse of the French Riviera. It was an incredible experience.”
In addition to their family ties, both men cite the lasting contributions their chosen countries have made.
“First of all, if it wasn’t for France we wouldn’t have a country because it was the French that put up the blockade at Yorktown that trapped the British and forced Lord Cornwall to surrender,” Des Jardins said.
“Secondly, the French gave us the Statue of Liberty. And third, Napolean sold all that land — South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, most of Colorado and Louisiana — to Thomas Jefferson for $15 million!”
“Yes, but Croatia gave us the neck tie,” Vince said.
Both countries produce excellent wine so we’ll raise a glass of that as well to the winner.
So, živjeli! Or à votre santé! But, mostly, živjeli!
May the best team win.