Homage to Victims of September 11
From France-Amerique
September 2003

By Catya Martin

Paul Girod, a senator from the French town of l'Aisne and president of the France-United States group, led a joint delegation of French and United States senators during New York's second anniversary homage to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. They also deposited a sheaf filled with their memories at the provisional memorial located in Battery Park.

In addition to Girod, the group consisted of Jean-Paul Leonce, central representative of the Calvados, Lucien Lanier, senator of the Valley-of-Marne and secretary of the group, André Rouvière, socialist senator of Gard and Danielle Bidard-Reydet, Communist senator of Seine-Saint-Denis and also a secretary of the Group.

This long planned visit had already been deferred for various reasons. but it was quite natural that the date of September 11 was favored by all for a visit. The delegation has consequently otherwise been made up of two senators, in particular those who represent the areas with the most significant American military cemeteries, l’Aisne and Normandy.

The day of September 11 was full: a visit to the French mission at the United Nations, which included meetings with representatives of various missions and to the French Institute, the Alliance Française under its director David Black.

A lunch took place with the consulate where, with the invitation of the French Consulate's consul general Richard Duqué, several representatives of the French community could speak freely with the French members of Parliament. Guy Wildenstein and Jean Lachaud, delegated to the Higher Council of the French of l’étranger, Richard Ortoli, president of the Committee of French Associations, Arnaud Thieffry, president of the local section of the Union of the French of l’Étranger (UFE) were in attendance, Patrick Croze, president of the local section of the Association Démocratique of the French with l’Étranger (ADFE) and Bruno Dellinger, director of Quint Amasis, were gathered at the same table. Mr. Dellinger is also the author of a work entitled World Trade Center, 47th Floor. Duqué also used this occasion to pay homage to the memory of the six French citizens who died in the attacks. He spoke of Danielle Délie, Michel Colbert, Jerome Lohez, Eric Ropiteau and Thierry Saada.

In his speech, the consul general announced the satisfaction he felt in being able to accommodate a French parliamentary delegation that had come to memorialize the 9/11 attacks on New York City. Senator Girod also noted that the goal of this visit was also to explain to the French living in America that everyone back in France understands that they have lived through these events and that that experience is important.

The senators also made a point of emphasizing with French expatriates that France supported them in a difficult international context. For Paul Girod "it is necessary to advance and stop referring to our earlier divergences," he said, noting that the United States was France’s "ally and not enemy.”

France-United States includes more than 100 members and a delegation led by Girord had already visited California and Washington state in September 2002. At the time of their last visit, they had worked to encourage a French presence in the United States.

There are currently 78 groups with the Senate from 184 countries. These groups constitute a fundamental element in the relations which France hopes to maintain with the international community. They have a significant role to play, especially with regards to parliamentary diplomacy.

Not only do the missions that they carry out make it possible to better understand he countries visited, but their visits also give France with the opportunity to emphasize its economic, commercial and cultural performances.

These groups also work to establish projects of decentralized co-operation and to facilitate relations between France's senators and French living outside of France.

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Translated from French by Charlotte Triggs

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