I caught the last half of This American Life on Saturday, and the theme involved reuniting. In the last act, "reuniting" meant the Marquis de Lafayette's first trip back to the United States in over 30 years in 1824. Of course, I remembered from history that Lafayette was a hero of the American Revolution, but I had no idea that he was so revered in our country back in the 1800s. When he returned on a ship in New York Harbor, 80,000 Americans came to greet him. At the time, the population of New York City was 120,000.
As a French aristocrat, he easily could have spent his life eating crepes and what not, but the notion of American independence so captured his heart, that he overcame all obstacles put in his way to keep him from helping. So, it is not surpising that he is one of only six people named an honorary citizen of the US.
He wrote in a letter to his wife:
The happiness of America is intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind; she is destined to become the safe and venerable asylum of virtue, of honesty, of tolerance, and quality and of peaceful liberty.
I hope we prove him right.