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French-born Jacques-André Istel (1929 – ), a former lieutenant in the U.S. Marines during the Korean War, known as the "father of American skydiving," and town Mayor – is the brainchild behind the creation of an American town completely dedicated to remembrance. Named after his wife Felicia, the town of Felicity, California was officially created in 1986. The town of about 2,000 acres is part of the area where the Quechan and Cocopah Indian tribes have had their roots. The last significant military manoeuvres held at Felicity were in 1942 when Major General George S. Patton (11 November 1885 – 21 December 1945) was given command of the 1st Armored Corps and established the Desert Training Centre: the largest military reservation in U.S. history that encompassed a dozen divisional camps spread across Arizona, Nevada and California. It was there that he trained his troops in preparation for their landing in North Africa.
The idea of calling the town 'Center of the World' stems from Istel's children’s book "Coe the Good Dragon" and was officially recognized as such in 1989 by the Institut Géographique National of the Government of France. A pyramid houses the official center point. Found at the entrance of the property is a sundial in the shape of a bronze sculpture of Michaelangelo's 'Arm of God' painted in the Sistine Chapel ceiling and points to Felicity's Church on the Hill of Prayer dedicated on Saint Felicity Day, 7 March 2008. As a site of remembrance, it consists of an outdoor Museum of History in Granite that includes nearly 1,000 panels of Missouri Red granite, half of which have been engraved. These historical monuments, built to last 4,000 years, include the U.S. Marine Corps Korean War Memorial (1998), the History of French Aviation (2002), the History of the French Foreign Legion (2003), the History of Humanity (2005), the History of Arizona (2010), and the History of the United States of America (2014), among others. In 2013, the Museum of History in Granite was nominated to be included in UNESCO's World Heritage List.
On this day, 7 March 2022, we commemorate on Saint Felicity Day, the 14th anniversary of the dedication of Felicity's Church on the Hill of Prayer at the Museum of History in Granite.
André M. Levesque