News: A Hero of Two Worlds Honored
Story by Sgt. Derrick Irions
PARIS - Two hundred and thirty-eight years after America declared it's independence, the legacy for one of the country's earliest and greatest allies continues to be honored and celebrated.
French and American service members, dignitaries and societies participated in an annual commemorative ceremony at the tomb of Major General Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette July 4.
Each year, on America's Independence Day, wreaths are placed at the edge of Lafayette's tomb and the American flag, which is flown above the grave, is lowered and replaced with a new flag. The new flag is then raised and flown until the ensuing year's ceremony.
French Air Force Col. Bruno Culhe, international relations desk officer with the French Joint Staff, said Lafayette continues to be seen as a living figure in France; students continue to read stories of Lafayette's bravery and learn about his contributions to both France and America.
The observance has taken place since the end of World War I and pays homage to Lafayette for his roles in service during conflicts such as the American War of Independence and the French Revolution.
"Marquis de Lafayette goes back to the very origin of the United States as a country," said Lt. Col. Sean R. Madden from the United States Defense Attaché Office at the U.S. Embassy in France. "It's from there that dates the great friendship between France and the United States."
During a time when America was struggling to create it's own identity, separate from the Kingdom of Great Britain, Lafayette stood and fought for the American cause. Fighting under the command of Gen. George Washington, Lafayette became a prominent officer in the Continental Army and was even wounded before going back to France to solicit King Louis XVI for increased support. Lafayette's aristocratic influence with King Louis XVI had an immeasurable influence on the outcome of the War.
"You could almost call him one of our forefathers," said Madden of the significance of Lafayette's efforts. "He was one of the key figures of the founding of the United States of America."