Just the right tavern to celebrate 200 years of U.S.-French military ties
Not every U.S. ally who visits the Pentagon needs to be treated to a dinner that evokes more than 200 years of peaceful military relations.
France is the rare exception.
So when Defense Minister Alain Juppe traveled to Washington this week for talks with Robert Gates, the U.S. defense secretary found just the right venue: Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia, one of the few establishments in the United States that can boast of “fine dining since 1770.”
Its historical guest list includes the likes of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and James Monroe.
Gates had his eye on a slightly different pair of clients when he hosted Juppe for dinner the evening before the two signed a space cooperation agreement.
“I had the pleasure of hosting Minister Juppe along with other French and U.S. officials for dinner at a tavern where Secretary of State John Quincy Adams played host to General Lafayette in 1824,” Gates told reporters during the signing ceremony.
“Two centuries later, France remains our strong and valued partner on the global stage. We’re grateful now, as ever, for their support and their friendship.”
The Marquis de Lafayette is the French nobleman who became a Revolutionary War hero while serving at his own expense as a 19-year-old major general in George Washington’s army.
The marquis returned to the United States many years later at the invitation of U.S. leaders and was feted as a hero of the American Revolution at a time of transition to a new generation of U.S. leaders.
John Quincy Adams’ appearances with Lafayette around the country may have helped him win the presidency in 1824. After Lafayette visited Washington that year, the park across the street from the White House was named in his honor.
Juppe seemed flattered by the comparisons.
“I appreciate very much, Mr. Secretary, our wonderful dinner yesterday evening in a very elegant place,” he said.
“I am here after Lafayette,” Juppe said, making a face to show he was impressed by the comparison. “For me, it’s a very great honor.”
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Picture credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol (Juppe visits an air base in France)