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French Frigate replica of L’Hermione relives history on July 4

MARI ZEVIN
Guest Writer
zevin@lbknews.com

As we celebrate Independence Day this year an exciting historic event has been taking place along 12 famous ports on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and the event has been made possible in part by a Florida based organization known as the Florida Friends of L’Hermione-Lafayette in America, Inc.

On July 4th, to celebrate America’s Independence, an authentic replica of the French Frigate, L’Hermione (which took 17 years to finance and build in Rochefort, France) will be in New York City at the 7th stop on its maiden voyage. The magnificent three masted L’Hermione will escort 100 boats past the Statue of Liberty during the “People’s parade of ships.”  It is with much pride that L’Hermione will lead the escort, as Lady Liberty was a gift from France, sculpted in Paris, and paid for by the French government and people. L’Hermione arrived on July 1 and docked at the South Street Seaport Museum pier 15 and will be in this port until July 4th.  While the ship is there, many people will have the opportunity to experience this floating museum, see the exquisite craftsmanship that went into reproducing the replica of the 1780 Frigate, learn more about the intimate ties between France and the United States, the relationship between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, and bring alive Cur non? (Why not?), the spirit of Lafayette.

L’Hermione brought Major General Gilbert du Motier (in the Colonial Army serving under George Washington), Marquis de Lafayette to the colonies in 1780 to inform General George Washington of the news that the French Navy would soon be sending arms, ships, and men. The Frigate would also play a role in the decisive battle of Yorktown, VA assisting in the blockade and the surrender of  British General Cornwallis. L’Hermione was equipped with 34 cannons and was one of the tallest ships of the period.

Previously, in 1779 Lafayette had lobbied on behalf of the American Revolution and convinced King Louis XVI and his advisors to send approximately 6,000 French soldiers to assist the colonists in their fight for independence.

After 42 days at sea in a transatlantic crossing with Yann Cariou as Captain and a 72 member crew with 1/3 women, the replica of L’Hermione arrived on June 5, 2015 at Yorktown, VA to commemorate the battle in which Lafayette assisted in the blockade. The remaining schedule of the ports the French Tall Ship Frigate will visit as the voyage of Lafayette are retraced are:

NYC with “Parade of Ships” July 1-4; Greenport, NY July 6-7; Newport, RI July 8-9; Boston, MA July 11-12; Castine ME July 14-15.  On Bastille Day, July 14, in Castine, Maine at 2pm a Parade of Boats begins.  In addition there will be FrancoAmerican food, music, and dance for two days and fireworks at 9 p.m. The last port will be Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on  7/18, 2015.  L’Hermione will then travel back to Rochefort, France and arrive on August 29, 2015 to celebrations and a grand festival to welcome her return.

For the Longboat Key residents enjoying homes this summer in the north, a visit to see the three-masted Frigate, learn more about the intimate history between America and France its oldest ally, and possibly board the 1780 reconstructed L’ Hermione can be scheduled and enjoyed until July 18, 2015. To follow l’ Hermione go to: Hermione2015.com

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