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- 04 -062017

Lafayette, We Are Here! : episode 13

MA BA La Fayette 1301 300x212 Lafayette, We Are Here! : episode 13

A military ceremony was given in the Court of Honour of the Hôtel des Invalides. © Paris musée de l’Armée, dist. RMN-GP image musée de l’Armée

MA BA La Fayette 1302 300x208 Lafayette, We Are Here! : episode 13

A military ceremony was given in the Court of Honour of the Hôtel des Invalides. © Paris musée de l’Armée, dist. RMN-GP

MA BA La Fayette 1303 300x213 Lafayette, We Are Here! : episode 13

Charles E. Stanton addresses the crowd in front of Lafayette’s grave in the Picpus Cemetery, July 1917. © BDIC

MA BA La Fayette 1304 300x208 Lafayette, We Are Here! : episode 13

4 July in Paris, 1918. © BDIC

The First U.S. Troops Arrive in France

Independence Day in Paris

On 4 July 1917, the 2nd Battalion, 16th U.S. Infantry Regiment was selected to show the flag and parade through Paris to celebrate Independence Day, the holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 on 4 July, with the Parisians. On the same day, a military ceremony took place in the Cour d’Honneur of the Hôtel des Invalides, presided by Raymond Poincaré, President of the French Republic, accompanied by Marshal Joffre, Generals Foch and General Pershing, Paul Painlevé, Minister of War, Marie-Jean-Lucien Lacaze, French Naval Minister, the Presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies and descendants of soldiers who fought in the War of Independence. The French officially handed over the emblems of the War of Independence kept in the musée de l’Armée. In return, the American Volunteers offered their flags to General Gustave Léon Niox, director of the museum.

On Lafayette’s grave

Following the ceremony held at the Hotel des Invalides, the soldiers of the AEF marched on to the Picpus Cemetery where “The Hero of Two Worlds”, General Lafayette is buried. Following the official opening addresses by prominent personalities, Lieutenant Colonel Charles E. Stanton (1858-1933), Q.M.C. to General Pershing delivered a speech that was to become famous:

I regret I cannot speak to the good people of France in the beautiful language of their own fair country. The fact cannot be forgotten that your nation was our friend when America was struggling for existence, when a handful of brave and patriotic people were determined to uphold the rights their Creator gave them – that France in the person of Lafayette came to our aid in words and deed.  It would be ingratitude not to remember this, and America defaults no obligations. […] Therefore, it is with loving pride we drape the colours in tribute of respect to this citizen of your great Republic. And here and now, in the presence of the illustrious dead, we pledge our hearts and our honour in carrying this war to a successful issue.

Lafayette, we are here!

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