We may have briefly touted Freedom-not-French Fries, but, that was merely a lovers spat. The Franco-American love affair dates back to Jefferson, and was solidified by Lafayette's voyage on the 'Hermione,' to promise Washington the French reinforcements that helped win the Revolutionary War.
When a replica of that ship arrives on our shores this summer, it will be a symbolic renewal of our vows, and the culmination of a 20 year French National project to bring alive this shared history for new generation.
In anticipation, the Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America held a gala on a more modern warship, the Intrepid, honoring Dr. Henry Kissinger
and Charlie Rose. French Intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy and (the first female) IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (IMF) spoke as the room dined on 18th Century French-styled cuisine.
Kissinger recalled his official meeting with Charles de Gaulle to brief him on the 1962 impending Cuban Missile Crisis. After he had explained it, Kissinger offered to bring in the briefing team waiting outside the door. "President de Gaulle replied that, 'A great ally acts at a moment of overwhelming national interest. I do not ask for any proof.'
"I think that this confluence of cooperation that has been so important in Franco American relations," Kissinger continued. "There have been occasional periods of disagreement, but they always arose from a French desire to affirm itself based on the consciousness that without a strong sense of identity that (it) will not be permanent.
"So, I remember my association with French leaders with enormous pride and I think the United Sates owes a great deal to the cooperation with France, with which we are now again working side by side in the Middle East."
Other guests that attended included H. E. Gèrard Araud (Ambassador of France), Sharon Bush
, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps
, Meera Gandhi, Vartan Gregorian, Lewis Lapham, The Hon and Mrs. Howard Leach, H. E. Bertrand Lortholary (Consul General of France), designer Catherine Malandrino
, Kati Marton, The Hon and Mrs. Craig Stapelton, Andrew Young, and many more. The Gala Chairs include Sir Martin Sorrell, The Honorable and Mrs. Earle I. Mack, Miles Young, and Pascale Richard.
The Hermione summer sail arrives at Yorktown and before proceeding up the coast to Mount Vernon, Alexandria/Washington DC., Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City
, Greenport, Newport, Castine, Maine, and then on to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, before heading home to France.
Pascale Richard, Khai Tham, Tristan Tham, honoree Dr. Henry Kissimger, and Bee Tham. (Photo: PatrickMcMullan.com)