Thursday, June 07, 2007
The French warship La Fayette and its crew are in New Orleans this week to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de La Fayette, a French aristocrat who fought in America's War of Independence. French sailors sounded a 21-gun salute as the frigate arrived at the Port of New Orleans on Tuesday. The U.S. Navy responded with a 21-gun salute of its own -- a long-held naval greeting dating back to the 1700s for a ship making its first port of entry in a new country. The ship will be docked on the banks of the Mississippi River near the French Quarter through Friday. On Saturday, it departs New Orleans for Tampa, Fla., then Norfolk, Va., and Savannah, Ga.
F710 FNS LafayetteThe ship's officers, led by Capt. Jean-Philippe Rolland, will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony Wednesday in the city's devastated Lower Ninth Ward to memorialize the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Also Wednesday, French naval officials will bestow the Legion of Honor -- a prestigious French military and civilian honor -- on five American World War II veterans in a ceremony aboard the ship. The French naval officials also plan a trip to the city of Lafayette on Thursday. The public will be allowed to tour the ship on Thursday and Friday, between 1:30 and 6 p.m. Visitors will need to have photo identification.