FETE NATIONALE, CEREMONIE OFFICIELLE - BASTILLE DAY, OFFICAL CEREMONY
Chicago (IL), le 14 juillet 2010. Discours officiel prononcé par le Consul général de France à l’occasion de la Fête nationale.
Chicago (IL), July 14, 2010. Official speech given by the Consul General of France on the occasion of the French National Day or Bastille Day.
I am delighted to be with you today for my first 14th of July in Chicago along with our counsellor to the Assemblée des Français de l’Etranger, Monsieur Marc Billon, and with our two friends Mary Roberts and Eileen Hubbell representing the Governor of Illinois and the Mayor of Chicago. I would like to thank both Mr. Quinn and Mr. Daley for their kind messages.
I would also like to express my sincere thanks to our generous sponsors : First to our host, the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, its director Nicolas Pesty and his team, to Air France for your help and your wonderful gift for the raffle which will follow, to Axa Assistance for their contribution and finally, I would like to thank and welcome France 24, a new French channel which supported in part our event this evening.
If I may, I would like to say a couple of words in French to the French community :
- je suis heureux de célébrer aujourd’hui avec vous le 14 juillet qui est toujours un moment particulier pour la communauté française. Mon épouse et ma fille ne m’ont pas encore rejoint mais je suis sûr que, comme moi, elles apprécieront les charmes de Chicago.
- Au consulat général, j’ai la chance de travailler avec une équipe engagée et compétente qui ne ménage pas ses efforts pour donner un service de qualité aux Français et pour contribuer au rayonnement de la France dans les domaines culturels, éducatifs, économiques ainsi que scientifiques et technologiques.
- à Chicago, j’ai découvert une communauté française dynamique, bien intégrée, avec plusieurs associations qui apportent une contribution majeure à la vitalité de la relation franco-américaine. C’est un atout important pour la présence française.
As you may know, I arrived in Chicago a month and a half ago, my wife and my daughter who are still in Europe are preparing to join me soon. For my part, I am still discovering the different aspects of this magnificent and vibrant city, and its friendly people. Between France, Chicago and the Midwest, there is a long common history which began, as you may know, with Cavelier de la Salle who sailed to the New World from the Harbor of La Rochelle, which happens to be my home town.
Today, coming back to the present time, I am proud to say that France, its culture, science, technology, economy and businesses, is well established in the Region. As an example, you have in Chicago a very successful Alliance Française, the French-American Chamber of commerce, the Lycée français, the Groupe Professionnel Francophone, and various very active associations, including the association of teachers of French. All of them are contributing to promoting France, the French culture and the French language. I am looking forward to working with all of you in the future.
Ten days after Independence Day, the 14th of July is a wonderful occasion to celebrate the French American friendship. This friendship was born on the battlefield of Yorktown when 45,000 French soldiers, headed by Lafayette, Rochambeau and De Grasse helped young America win its independence.
After the Independence, twice during the last century, the United States helped us to preserve our own independence and our democracy : during World War I when General Pershing came to our country with numerous American troops and pronounced the unforgettable words "Lafayette here we are", then in 1944 when American soldiers landed in Normandy and in Provence. Americans helped us remain an independent democracy and regain our freedom.
Europe today lives in peace and freedom, thanks to the French-German exemplary reconciliation and the European construction, but also thanks to the US. This is why, on this Bastille day, I would also like to pay tribute to the American veterans of World War II, these true heroes, who liberated my country in 1944. They are part of the American legend, and for those who are still with us today, they deserve to be recognized for their deeds. A few years ago, the French government decided to do so by awarding to the bravest the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction. These men fought on foreign soil because they believed in Freedom, Justice and Fraternity - values that our two nations have shared since the XVIIIth century, when the United States and France established the first two great Republics of modern times.
Mr. Richard Linn, Mr. Marvin Kosky, Mr. James Pratt and Mr. Carl Watson are among these heroes.
Mr. Kosky, Enlisted at the age of 21 in May 1942 as a Captain and Liaison Officer in the 358th Artillery of the 95th Infantry Division which fought beside General George Patton’s 3rd Army. From June 1942 to November 1945 he participated in the Northern France, Ardennes, and Rhineland campaigns. For his courage and remarkable deeds the American government presented him with several prestigious medals including the Bronze Star Medal.
Mr. Linn, Enlisted at the age of 22 in March 1943 as a surgical technician in the Medical Detachment of the 324th Infantry Regiment. From September 1944 to July 1945 he participated in the Northern France, Rhineland, and Central Europe campaigns. For his achievements, the American Government presented him with many prestigious awards, In particular the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart Medal.
Mr. Pratt, enlisted at the age of 22, in March 1941 first as the 2nd Lieutenant then as 1st Lieutenant in the 115th regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. From May 1944 to December 1945, he participated in the Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, and Rhineland campaigns. For his bravery in action the American Government presented him with many prestigious medals including the Bronze Star Medal
Mr. Watson, enlisted at the age of 27, in January 1943 as a sergeant in the 3725th quartermaster service company. From November 1943 to September 1945, he participated in the Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe campaigns. For his achievements the American government presented him with many prestigious awards including the Bronze Arrowhead Medal.
Mr. Kosky, Mr. Linn, Mr. Pratt, and Mr. Watson, to show our eternal gratitude, the government of the French Republic has decided to award you the Legion of Honor. Created by Napoleon in 1802, it is the highest honor that France can bestow upon those who have achieved remarkable deeds for France.
I am so pleased to give you the medal today in front of your loved ones. I could not feel more honored.
Mr. Kosky, in the name of the President of the French Republic, I present you with the medal of Knight of the Legion of Honor.
Mr. Linn, in the name of the President of the French Republic, I present you with the medal of Knight of the Legion of Honor.
Mr. Pratt, in the name of the President of the French Republic, I present you with the medal of Knight of the Legion of Honor.
Mr. Watson, in the name of the President of the French Republic, I present you with the medal of Knight of the Legion of Honor.
At this time I would like to invite Mr. David Brown to join us on stage. Mr. Brown was awarded the Legion of Honor at a ceremony on June 27 at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook IL.
Vive les Etats-Unis, vive la France, et vive l’amitié franco-américaine !
Let us all celebrate together !