American Memorial Day 2017, commemoration near Paris
The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery will host its Memorial Day ceremony on Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. Attendance is free and open to the public.
The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery commemorates the birthplace of American combat aviation, serves as a symbol of the Franco-American comradeship during World War I and stands as a tribute to the American pilots of the Escadrille La Fayette and the Lafayette Flying Corps who gave their lives during the First World War to assist the Allies. It is located in a corner of the Parc de Saint Cloud in Marnes-la-Coquette.
The monument was inaugurated by Maréchal Foch and French President Paul Doumer on 4 July 1928. The monument is of art-deco style. It is an open space crowned by an arch of triumph (half the size of the one at the Etoile in Paris). There is an underground crypte which contains the ashes of 66 American pilots and is decorated with 13 stained glass windows depicting aerial combat and various battle cities of WWI. The decoration retraces the sacrifice of the aviators and franco-american friendship. There is a mosaic of a Sioux Indian head that was the emblem of the squadron. The Lafayette Squadron was an all American unit within the French army and was authorized in the spring of 1916 even before the United States officially entered the war. In order to keep their citizenship the Americans had enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and were eventually regrouped in one unit later in the war.
Read more about the memorial and the squadron
To reach the Memorial Day 2017 commemorations take SNCF ligne Paris Saint-Lazare/St-Nom-la-Bretèche, gare de “Garches / Marnes-la-Coquette” then walk about 800 meters. Or by car take D307 from Saint Cloud directly to the memorial.
The 2006 film Flyboys, directed by Tony Bill and with James Franco, Jean Reno and Jennifer Decker is about the Lafayette Squadron.
“I Flew with the Lafayette Escadrille” is a memoir written by Edwin C Parson the last surviving member of the squadron.