Celebrating the Franco-American Alliance Tour - Day 4

Written by: Morgan Lake, Recording Secretary General
October 12, 2017

On Wednesday, our tour began at the historic Picpus Cemetery.   The private cemetery was created during the French Revolution, and more than 1,300 victims of the guillotine are buried here, most of them lying together in a mass grave.  Picpus Cemetery is also the final resting place of our beloved friend in liberty, the Marquis de Lafayette.  It was a fine honor to participate with President General Ann Dillon in laying a wreath at his grave, while remembering the special relationship between the Marquis and the United States.  He is buried with American soil from Bunker Hill, and his grave is always decorated with an American Flag.

When the United States entered World War I and troops arrived in France, sentiment for the Franco-American friendship was high.  On July 4, 1917, following a parade through the streets of Paris, General Pershing, U.S. Army Colonel Charles E. Stanton and the American troops arrived at the grave of the Marquis. Colonel Stanton delivered the memorable quote:  “Lafayette, we are here!”

Our next stop was the American Cathedral, where the Very Reverend Lucinda Laird welcomed our group.  The impressive Gothic Revival structure was designed by English architect George Edmund Street.  Senior Docent Dennis Grove and France State Regent Lucy Morin shared history of the building, as well as the role DAR has played in supporting the Battle Cloister Memorial.  In 1994, President General Wayne Blair dedicated a plaque, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion,  honoring all those who lost their lives in Europe to ensure freedom for mankind during World War II.  Tour participants were invited to explore the memorials and enjoyed lunch in the nave. 

In celebration of the NSDAR Day of Service, the Daughters and their traveling companions passed the beret to collect funds to support two projects that have been adopted by the Rochambeau Chapter,  Caroline de Navacelle, Regent, in Paris.  First, the ONACVG organization, which is the equivalent of the Veterans Administration in the United States, has a Bleuet campaign which works for the benefit of the military veterans and victims of terrorism.  Funds are raised through the sale of small “bleuet” pins, which are comparable to our red poppy.   The second project selected is a Community Classroom Committee effort at the Hector Guimarde High School.  Students have been introduced to an interesting curriculum involving American history, culture and arts, which will culminate with a celebration on April 5, 2018.  

The highlight of the evening was a wreath and flame re-kindling ceremony at the Arch of Triumph.  President General Ann Dillon was selected to place the lovely wreath of white roses and hydrangeas in this most prestigious ceremony.  The DAR delegation, including tour participants and many members of the Rochambeau Chapter, were escorted to a special area for viewing.  Conducted by officials of the Comite’ de la Flamme, the Flame rekindling ceremony honors all of the French soldiers who died for their country and takes place every evening with a very strict protocol. Also participating in the service were:  France State Regent Lucy Morin and wreath layers Frédérique de Beaumont and Wendy Cormier.

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