Dear Friend of Lafayette,
In reviewing the articles in this edition of the Gazette, it dawned on me that in 2018 five states celebrated Lafayette Days.
The procession started in March with Virginia’s state-mandated Lafayette Day which was reported in the last Gazette. It continued in May with Massachusetts Lafayette Day, also mandated by state law, and at Lafayette Hill, PA where long-time member Rudy Cusumano’s speech was read by a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
In perusing Rudy’s speech, I recalled that the Battle of Barren Hill (now Lafayette Hill) took place on the same date, May 20, on which Lafayette died 56 years later. Massachusetts Lafayette Day, May 20, commemorates his passing in 1834.
The procession of Lafayette Days continued with two more that commemorated his birth on September 6, 1757. Celebrations were held in Fayetteville, North Carolina under the leadership of Hank Parfitt and the Lafayette Society and in Lagrange, Georgia. In Georgia, Dr. Richard Ingram and the Lafayette Alliance had recently been instrumental in obtaining a statute establishing Georgia’s Lafayette Day.
This parade of commemorations raises the question of a National Lafayette Day in honor of the forgotten founder, or as Lin-Manuel Miranda calls him in the hit musical Hamilton, “America’s favorite fighting Frenchman.” Although I may have been dismissive of the idea in the past, this proliferation of state Lafayette Days leads me to wonder: cur non?
Please note Peter Reilly’s article about laying the groundwork for the Bicentennial of Lafayette’s Farewell Tour and the commemorative events on Labor Day weekend at Charlton, Massachusetts and at Old Sturbridge Village. Consider getting involved with planning an event at a historical society near you.
Our peripatetic cartographer, Julien Icher, is at it again. Supported by a fund raised by the AFL under the leadership of member John Becica, Julien has now visited Lafayette stops in New York City and state, Maryland, Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri and Illinois. You may find some of his work reflected in updates to the website: thelafayettetrail.com
Just weeks ago, Chuck Schwam, our treasurer, event planner, and minister plenipotentiary to our oldest ally, travelled to France with Bonnie Fritz. He reports in this issue on some of his activities, including the planting of trees at Chavaniac. Benoit Guizard reports on their meeting with Chambrun Foundation Director Jeannine de Cardaillac.
Finally, I want to express my gratitude to recent AFL member, Jan O’Sullivan who has assisted me in editing this 89th edition of the Gazette of the American Friends of Lafayette.
Alan R. Hoffman