The recent events in France on their Independence Day celebration were heinous, indeed. When six French visitors to Fayette County celebrated Bastille Day 27 years ago it was a glorious unforgettable occasion.
In 1989 five men and one woman who were French citizens decided to celebrate Bastille Day by visiting six towns-communities in the United States with “Lafayette” somewhere in its name.
Now, I counted how many of these communities in the United States contained this name years ago, and there are at least 50 with “Lafayette”, “Fayette”, or “Fayetteville” somewhere in its name. Fayetteville, North Carolina was the first town so-named.
Besides Georgia and North Carolina, the Frenchmen also visited Arkansas, Texas, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
In 1976 Fayette County celebrated the country’s Bicentennial by hosting a wagon train traveling from Stone Mountain, Georgia, to York, Pennsylvania. The wagon train camped in Peachtree City its second night. York was the site of the British surrender.
While unfair taxation was one of the root causes of both revolutions, and a king was involved in each one, the overthrow of being ruled by a king in the United States was successful from a democratic point of view.
Beheading the king and nobles in France seemed like the thing to do by the peasants, they did not have anything to gain as far as their personal lives were concerned. What they did accomplish unknowingly was to bring about the turning point in the history of Western democracy.
When the six Frenchmen flew to the United States, five of them were pilots. They named their excursion “Air Raid LaFayette”. They flew into New Orleans where they rented three two-seater, single engine Cessna’s and began a two week journey. They were met at Falcon Field by then mayor, Roger Marietta, councilman Rick Eastin and historical society president, Ed Bradford.
Fayetteville, Georgia was their last stop on their journey.The Fayette County Historical Society held an open house in the afternoon and that evening the city of Fayetteville hosted an event in the Fayetteville Train Depot. It was catered by Kenny Melear who commented “barbecue snails aren’t on our menu, but we did treat them to some fine barbecue pig.” Several of the visitors spoke English and one of them commented “we love Georgia and love its barbecue.”
Don’t tell anyone, but the city served wine at this event. I bet we can’t do that again.
They flew out from Falcon Field on July 14 and so ended their Bastille Day celebration right here in Fayette County, Georgia.
Their departing comment was “it’s been marvelous, simply marvelous. We feel honored that your community is named after our hero, LaFayette. I don’t believe we have a George Washington community, but it would be a good idea.”