Good morning! On behalf of the mayor, the Jackson Town Board of Commissioners, and the people of Jackson, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the official Lafayette Trail Marker Dedication Ceremony.
We are delighted to have with us today, our guest, Julien P. lcher, the Founder and President of The Lafayette Trail, Inc. Also traveling with Julien is Travis, his videographer. Let's give these gentlemen a big North Carolina welcome for spearheading this extraordinary endeavor.
As we approach the Bi-Centennial of Marquis de Lafayette's Farewell Tour of the United States as our "Nation's Guest", I can't begin to tell you how very proud and honored we are to play a part in this. We were a proud people on Sunday, February 27, 1825 when the General visited our small town, then known as Northampton Courthouse, and we are a proud and honored people today. This may surprise you but we view General Lafayette as one of our nation's "other" founding fathers. Let me put this in perspective, envision a 19-year old French aristocrat who uses his own personal funds to purchase a ship, sails to America to fight for the cause in defiance of King Louis, XVIII, and against the wishes of his father-in-law, once here he demonstrates leadership and valor on the battlefield- being wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, and perhaps his greatest contribution is his substantial influence with French authorities in convincing them to send men, materiel and part of their fleet to assist in the cause. It's doubtful we gain our independence when we did without his contributions.
To demonstrate how proud we are, in addition to this wonderful marker, the Jackson Town Board recently passed a resolution naming our pocket park where we are gathered today, "Lafayette Park." We also commissioned our esteemed local muralist, Napoleon Hill, to paint a mural commemorating Lafayette's visit on the west wall of the Embassy Cafe just across the street.
Lastly, the Northampton County Museum, which stands less than a block away, to our west, is in the process of developing a permanent exhibit honoring the General. We see these activities as a way to not only honor the General, but also as a good tourism development opportunity as we revitalize historic downtown Jackson. We firmly believe that the Lafayette Trail will not only serve as a good educational piece, but also serve to reinforce the strong bond that the United States and France have long enjoyed.
Before I turn this over to Julien for the dedication, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bill and Sallie Futrell for permitting us to place the marker on their private property. I would also like to thank Judy Collier with the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce and Dick Collier with the Northampton County Tourism Development Authority for providing these wonderful gift bags for everyone.