Lafayette Squadron Memorial in Paris

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The La Fayette Escadrille Memorial, a symbol of Franco-American friendship, is located in the Parc Saint-Clos on the outskirts of the capital, Marne-le-Coquette, halfway between Paris and Versailles. It is dedicated to the memory of 250 American volunteers who took part in the skies of France during the First World War.

A look into history

The idea of ​​building the memorial belongs to the former squadron pilot Edgar Hamilton, who has devoted many years of his life to the search and honorable burial of his comrades in arms. His proposal was actively supported by the Franco-American public.

For the construction of the memorial, the La Fayette Escadrille Memorial Association was formed in 1923 and organized a fundraiser. Both the wealthiest families in the United States and ordinary citizens of the two countries made a great contribution to support the project. The opening of the monument took place on the Independence Day of the United States on July 4, 1928 in the presence of Marshal F. Foch, P. Domer and 10 thousand war veterans.

Since 1930, the Lafayette Squadron Memorial has belonged to the foundation of the same name, created by the participants in the war. In the early 1990s, the state of the memorial deteriorated greatly: the crypt was regularly flooded with underground waters, and the color of the Arc de Triomphe lost its original shade. In 2003, a complete reconstruction of the memorial was carried out, for which $ 2 million was spent. Since 2017, its state and the surrounding area have been monitored by the Commission of American War Monuments.

Description of the monument

The central part of the Lafayette Squadron Memorial is the Arc de Triomphe, which is symmetrically adjoined by two small colonnades with porticoes. On opposite sides, there are statues of the Marquis J. Lafayette and President D. Washington facing each other. On the slab-paved platform in front of the arch is a mosaic depicting the symbols and emblems of Lafayette Squadron - the lion cubs of Whiskey and Soda and the head of a Sioux Indian.

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On the surface of the walls of the arch, in French and English, the names of the pilots are listed and the names of the cities and regions that they defended during the war are indicated.

The crypt, hidden under the arch, houses 68 sarcophagi with the bodies of American pilots. Some of them are still empty, as the remains of the fallen heroes have not yet been found.

Two French officers Georges Tenot and Antonin Brocard, who served in this unit, are also buried here. The memorial hall is decorated with 13 stained-glass windows, created according to the sketches of the artist Momezhan. The plots of 11 of them were air battles in which the pilots of the Lafayette squadron took part.

Memorial ceremonies are held annually on November 11 and at the end of May near the Lafayette Squadron Memorial. Their indispensable participants are always representatives of the US diplomatic corps and high-ranking military personnel of France and America.

On the days of the celebrations, French and American aerobatic teams perform demonstration flights on Mirage 2000N and F-16 aircraft in the sky over the city park. At this time, for the members of the military association and tourists gathered at the memorials, the melodies of the First World War are performed by the brass bands of the Air Forces of the two countries.

Getting there

Address: 5 Boulevard Raymond Poincaré, Marnes-la-Coquette
Website: lafayetteescadrille.org/fr/le-memorial/
RER train: Garches - Marnes la Coquette
Bus: Hôpital de Garches

Source
INFO-MANIAC