French soldiers ride a pair of double-decker buses to West 123rd Street and Riverside Drive to visit the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant (aka Grants Tomb). The French soldiers visited Grants Tomb while World War I was still ongoing. Above the tomb the placard reads, “Let us have peace” (source).
Also, the start of American involvement in World War I and just before leaving Governors Island in 1917 to lead the 2 million soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force in France, General John J. Pershing (1860-1948) had to run to Harlem to register for the draft of the very army he was going to France to lead (source). In addition, the French general Joseph Joffre visited Grant’s tomb on May 10, 1917, about a year after he was relieved of command in France. During Joffre’s visit had a crowd estimated at 25,000 gathered to watch him pay his respects to Monsieur Ulysses Grant (source).
During this time, these sundry visits and ceremonies reportedly attracted huge crowds. The reason the French visited Grants tomb was either before or after they had visited the statue of Joan of Arc “The Maid of Orléans”, the folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. The statue became, in the decades after its construction, a symbol of Franco-American relations. The statue was usually included in the itinerary of visiting dignitaries (…for instance, Marie Alexandra Victoria, the Queen of Romania, was compelled to schlep up there when she visited the States in 1926…) and it was the scene of various wreath-layings and other ceremonies honoring whichever French person (or persons) was close at hand.
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