Veterans of the D-Day_ Dear Friends_ Ladies and Gentlemen_

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					                                      La Nouvelle-Orléans, le 6 juin 2007

Commandant, merci de nous accueillir à bord de cette belle

        unité de la Marine nationale, la frégate La Fayette.

Chers amis anciens combattants, Mesdames et Messieurs,

    Nous         sommes    aujourd’hui    réunis,      Français       et

Américains, pour célébrer l’amitié entre nos deux peuples

et pour rendre hommage à des hommes de courage et

d’honneur qui, il y a maintenant 63 ans, ont participé à

l’une     des     plus    grandes    aventures      humaines,         le

Débarquement de Normandie. Nous célébrons aujourd’hui

également une grande figure de l’histoire de France, et de

l’histoire des Etats-Unis, le Marquis de La Fayette, le

“héros      de    deux    mondes”.     Cette     cérémonie,         ces

commémorations, marqueront un moment particulièrement

fort, presque deux ans après Katrina, dans la longue
histoire des liens privilégiés qui        unissent   Français   et

Américains, Français et Louisianais, Français et Néo-


                 Veterans of the D-Day, Dear Friends,

                       Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Today is a beautiful day. We are celebrating, aboard

the FS La Fayette, the 250th anniversary of the birth of the

Marquis de La Fayette. We are also celebrating the 63rd

anniversary of the D-Day Allied Landing in Normandy, June

6th, 1944. Today we are honoring five U.S. World War II

veterans     :     William   Gately,   Harry   Hagstad,   Georges

Leidenheimer, Stanley Madere, and Tommie Uzzle.

    I would like to extend a warm welcome to you and your

families and friends. Mr. Uzzle, unfortunately, could not be

present today, but he is with us, and we are with him, in

spirit and in our hearts.

    And we are, last but not least, celebrating, with the

visit of the FS La Fayette to New Orleans, a wonderful

moment in the friendship between our two countries,

between France and Louisiana, between France and New

Orleans, a friendship that has been solemnly reaffirmed, a

few days ago, by the new President of the French Republic,

Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy.

    The Marquis de La Fayette occupies a very important

place in the history of the United States, and in the history

of France and of the French Revolution.

    A man of outstanding military valour, skill and

courage, a man of strong belief in freedom and in equal

rights, a man of honor and vision, he has rendered

invaluable service to General George Washington and the

American revolutionary fighters.      The Marquis de La

Fayette has been at the source of the special bond that

attaches France and the United States, and that has been

maintained and reaffirmed throughout the centuries.

Tomorrow,     we   will    with Captain          Rolland    attend

ceremonies     organized   by       the   city   of   Lafayette   to

commemorate the anniversary of the “Hero of two worlds”.

Thank you, Joey Durel, President of the Lafayette City-

Parish Consolidated Government, for your initiative and

your leadership.

    On the celebration of the D-Day Landing, please allow

me to quote a speech given by the former President of the

French Republic, at an international ceremony on June 6th,

2004, for the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle

of Normandy:

    “The soldiers of freedom came in great numbers from

the United States of America. Under General Eisenhower’s

command, for a second time, Americans put their ideals,

their might and their courage at the service of the liberation

of our country and our continent, at the service of

democracy. France will never forget what it owes America,

its steadfast friend and ally.        Today, as yesterday, we

appreciate     the           deep commitment implicit in that

long-standing bond of friendship, shared values, trust and

mutual respect.”

    Aboard the FS La Fayette we have, today, four of these

soldiers of freedom:

     William Gately, who, as a paratrooper with the 507th

    Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne

    Division, fought in France twice, during D-Day and, a

    few months later, at the Battle of the Bulge, and was

    wounded on each of these engagements.

       Harry Hagstad, who, with his unit in the 394th

    Regiment    of     the    99th   Infantry   Division,   fought

    heroically in the Ardennes, at the Battle of the Bulge.

     Georges Leidenheimer, who as a paratrooper with

    the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd

    Airborne Division jumped into the dark of night of

    June 5th 1944, in the Sainte-Mère-l’Eglise area

     Stanley Madere, who was with the 773rd Tank

    Destroyer Battalion of the 90th Infantry Division and

    fought in Bourg St Leonard, during the days of August

    19th and 20th, 1944

     and Tommie Uzzle, who served in the 325th Glider

    Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Division (“The All

    American Division”) and fought at the Battle of the


    William, Harry, Georges, Stanley, Tommie, we are

honoring you today because, as former President Chirac

stated, you are “admirable symbols of courage and

devotion, of honor and nobility, of duty and supreme


    On behalf of the President of the French Republic, of

the French government, and of the French people, allow me

to express to you, today, aboard the FS La Fayette, our

gratitude, our pride and our admiration. And let us not

forget today your brothers in arms,   all    these   soldiers,

American, French from the Free French or the Resistance,

British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, who fell on

the field of honour. Many of them rest in French soil. They

will remain in our hearts for eternity.     By honoring you

today, we are honoring them.

    And it is my honor now to bestow upon you, jointly

with Captain Rolland, the insignia of Chevalier in the Order

of the Legion of Honor, our first National Order, created by

Napoleon on May 19th, 1802./.

                            Pierre Lebovics