Troup County Archives and Lafayette Alliance host 4th annual wreath laying ceremony

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2022

On a bright Tuesday morning the Troup County Archives and Legacy Museum and the Lafayette Alliance hosted the 4th annual wreath laying ceremony to remember the Marquis de Lafayette, whose statue is positioned in the middle of LaGrange.

“Today is the 265th birthday of the Marquis de Lafayette,” Executive Director Shannon Johnson said. “The alliance is committed to educating about Lafayette, specifically why he is in the middle of our fountain, and what he had to do with this area, but also throughout the U.S. as well.”

In an impassioned speech about Marquis de Lafayette and his struggles and drive for freedom for all, Dr. Richard Ingram, chair of the Lafayette Alliance recounted the initial idea of building a statue of Lafayette by Dr. Waights G. Henry, the president of LaGrange College in the 1970s.

“Think of the bureaucracy he had to go through. Think of the connections, people he had to contact. You think American bureaucracy is tough – think about the French!” Ingram remarked.

The Lafayette Alliance is an organization founded in 2017 that seeks to inspire, illuminate and unite all in the spirit of Lafayette, who was a French Marquis that was instrumental in securing American independence. Each year, Lafayette Alliance holds a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lafayette Square to celebrate Lafayette Day, which coincides on the day of Lafayette’s birth.

Johnson said she thinks it’s neat that the city puts on an annual commencement ceremony for Lafayette.

“I think that it’s really cool that he’s in our fountain. Of all the founding fathers, he’s probably about the only one that we can still remember without having to fret,” she said.

Speaker councilman Dr. Willie Edmondson said he initially wasn’t going to speak at the ceremony.

“I had to do some research to make sure I was at the right thing,” Edmondson said. “I found a lot of great things, he ignited a fire and that fire he ignited still lights today in 2022.”

Lafayette was born on Sept. 6, 1757, to an aristocratic family in Chavaniac, France. He was a trained soldier and believed in the democracy that the American Revolution would offer the first 13 colonies. Lafayette would travel at his own expense from France to America to participate in the war with the British. He is remembered and respected for his noteworthy character traits of courage, friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, perseverance and advocacy for the rights of all persons.

After years of fighting for liberty and human rights, Lafayette returned to America and toured the then 24 states. West Georgia reminded him of his home, the Chateau de LaGrange Bléneau, which is how LaGrange got its name.

According the program, the statue of General Lafayette was cast from the original in LePuy-en-Velay, France near where Lafayette was born. The statue depicts Lafayette in his French National Guard uniform holding up high a badge of red, white, and blue. The badge was historically worn in one’s hat to signify affiliation.

The statue was placed in 1975 as a tribute to the Marquis and in time to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution as a permanent loan to the City of LaGrange from LaGrange College.