Minister Royal speaks in Yorktown on the occasion of the Hermione arrival
Dear Miles Young,
Dear friends of Hermione,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very happy to join you here today in welcoming the Hermione on behalf of the President of the French Republic and the French Government and as Minister in charge of the Sea and Sustainable Development.
May I add how proud I am that this extraordinary adventure came to fruition in part thanks to the support of my region Poitou-Charentes. Today, a dream becomes reality, a dream of thousands of volunteers led by Benedict Donnelly, involved for more than ten years, the dream of territories like Poitou-Charentes, the Departement of Charentes-Maritime, and the city of Rochefort ; the dream of 50 small corporations specialized in all the handcraft needed to rebuild the ship the way it was in 1780: for the carpentry, the sails, the ironwork and the foundry of guns. The dream of 4 million visitors to the site of the building over the last ten years; the dream of the vocational students whom I asked to make the furniture for the ship; a dream I would want all our American friends to share, thanks to the dedication of Miles Young and his team.
Many thanks to Yorktown for its warm welcome! And bravo to the Hermione crew; to its captain, Yann Cariou; to its experienced sailors; and to its 100 young volunteers!
Lafayette was hardly twenty years old when he crossed the Atlantic for the first time to side with the American insurgents. In Paris, he pleaded for the cause of the country he would forever consider his second homeland. He returned on board L’Hermione, bringing with him the good news: the imminent arrival of troops and warships sent by France. The victory of Yorktown, obtained by the American and French troops fighting together, sealed the fate of the war.
Upon returning to France in 1782, Lafayette fervently shared his admiration of American institutions. He named his son George Washington and christened one of his daughters Virginie in homage to the valiant Virginians.
The voyage of L’Hermione was the pivotal moment that founded this fraternal alliance between the U.S. and France, an alliance that never failed each time vital stakes were at play: first the cause of freedom in the New World; then, in two different conflicts, the liberation of France and of Europe. As president Obama said when the new Hermione sailed off the coast of France: "for more than two centuries, the United States and France have stood united in the freedom we owe to one another. From the battlefields where a revolution was won, to the beaches where the liberation of a continent began, generations of our peoples have defended the ideals that guide us - overcoming the darkness of oppression and injustice with the light of liberty and equality, time and again."
Now Mr. Governor, I will bestow upon you the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen that I gave to the Hermione crew when she sailed from Rochefort on April the 18th. This founding text for our Republic was largely inspired by your Declaration of Independence.