Tuesday, January 10, 2017
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WE MADE IT! All the money has been raised to create and erect the statue of Lafayette!
Here I am in Yorktown, Virginia recently, visiting the statues of Washington and de Grasse, commander of the French fleet that bottled up the Brits at Yorktown. (I was there for the celebration of the British surrender on October 19, 1781.)
I am standing in the exact spot where the new statue of Lafayette will be placed, exactly one year from now. (His pose will be a little different, as I doubt he'll be holding Washington's hand, etc.)
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In historic Yorktown, Virginia, site of the final major battle of the Revolution, there is a duet of statues honoring General George Washington, commander of the combined American and French forces, and French Admiral François De Grasse, commander of the French fleet that "bottled up" the British troops under General Cornwallis at Yorktown. These life-sized figures were created by Virginia sculptor Cyd Player.
Installed in 2005 and enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors annually, the statues commemorate two important meetings that took place on board De Grasse’s flagship the Ville de Paris to plan the 1781 Yorktown campaign and to explore plans for further operations.
The problem? It was supposed to be a quartet of sculptures. There are two important figures missing! Also present for at least one of these meetings were General Rochambeau, who led the French troops, and General Lafayette, who had kept Cornwallis trapped at Yorktown until the combined American and French troops had arrived. (He also served as an interpreter at the meeting with Washington, Rochambeau, and De Grasse.)
The reason that Lafayette and Rochambeau are not represented here? There was not enough funding to create all four statues at the same time.
Now the national organization dedicated to honoring the young Frenchman who did so much to help us gain our independence, the American Friends of Lafayette, along with the Celebrate Yorktown Committee of the Yorktown Foundation, and other interested organizations and people, have raised enough money to put Lafayette in his rightful place.
The new statue will accurately portray this important historical event and provide an opportunity for visitors of all ages to discover and recognize the role Lafayette played in shaping America’s history.