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Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Marquis de Lafayette becomes honorary citizen

WASHINGTON -- The Marquis de Lafayette, who fought alongside George Washington at Valley Forge and secured the aid of France during the Revolutionary War, on Tuesday became the sixth person to be conferred with honorary U.S. citizenship.

With the stroke of a pen, President Bush bestowed honorary citizenship on Lafayette. The legislation the president signed hails Lafayette as "forever a symbol of freedom."

The full name of the French aristocrat, who died in 1834, was Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier.

Congress has previously given honorary citizenship to Winston Churchill; Mother Teresa; Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who helped save thousands of Jews from Nazi death camps in World War II; and Pennsylvania founder William Penn and his wife, Hannah.

Lafayette arrived in Philadelphia in 1777. He was appointed a major general by the Continental Congress, was wounded at Brandywine, shared the winter hardships at Valley Forge and was a key strategist in the Yorktown campaign that led to the British surrender.

He also was instrumental in securing French aid for the struggling American forces.

Lafayette was the first foreign dignitary to address Congress, in 1824, and upon his death both the House and Senate draped their chambers in black.

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