When I was young I use to play in the area where a dilapitated old green building housed a train box car. I was told that it was a gift from France for our help during World War II. Several years ago a new building was constructed to house the box car.
Every year in the fall a small parade would go up to the box car. There would be a lot of veterans and some other people with them. A speech and a small rifle salute would take place.
A very moving and insightful document exist titled "What Ever Happened To Those Forty And Eights" by LCol Manuel A. Conley, USA. I wish I could print the document on my site but I don't know if the author would approve. I have found a copy of the article on the Web at World War II Federation. I will write a brief summary below.
After World War II a newspaper columist named Drew Pearson started a project called American Friendship Train. 700 train carloads of food, fuel and clothing was sent to Europe. In France a rail worker and war veteran named Andre Picard suggested that France send a decorated 40 & 8 boxcar full of gifts back to America. Stuff like french wine, perfume and other items. The idea got bigger and bigger with various groups getting involved and finnally the goverment. It landed up being a lot more than a carload including stuff like works of art, bicycles and children's dolls. That's right, the little girls donated their dolls to the 40 & 8 boxcars. They probally only had 1 doll considering the times so this was a big deal for them. 49 boxcars were sent. 1 for each of the 48 states and 1 for District of Columbia and Territory of Hawaii. They are called Merci Box Cars to show the gratitude of France for aid provided by the United States.Forty and Eights - box cars meant to carry 40 men or 8 horses. Used in World War I and World War II.