|Hollande inscribing the White House guest book in the Blue Room today|
Washington, DC - The White House has announced that President François Holland will return home with the gift of an oak table from President Barack Obama, custom made to commemorate his State Visit, the first honoring France since 1996.
A symbol of the centuries-old alliance between the two-nations, the table memorializes the friendship between President George Washington and Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette. The orphaned son of French aristocrats, Lafayette became known as "the hero of two worlds" after fighting for freedom in both the American and French Revolutions. He was widely referred to at the time as Washington's "adopted son."
The table is made with oak from a tree planted during Washington's lifetime at Mount Vernon, his Virginia home located about 18 miles from the White House. It features a special replica of a key to the Bastille, made with iron reclaimed from the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift to the US from France.
The White House statement about President Obama's gift:
"As a part of the State Visit, the President presented President Hollande with a gift--a custom designed table that includes some wood from a fallen oak tree at Mount Vernon, the home of President George Washington.
The tree was planted during President Washington's lifetime. Featured in the center of the table is a handcrafted replica of the key to the Bastille that The Marquis de Lafayette gave to President Washington in 1790. The replica key was forged from reclaimed iron from the Statue of Liberty, and the original continues to be featured at Mount Vernon.
The following is a quote from Lafayette's letter that accompanied the key: "Give me leave, my dear General, to present you...with the main key to the fortress of despotism. It is a tribute which I owe as a son to my adoptive father, as an aide de camp to my General, as a missionary of liberty to its patriarch..."
President Obama honored President Hollande with a State Dinner on Tuesday evening, capping his two days in Washington. CLICK HERE for the four-course menu.
CLICK here for all posts about Hollande's State Visit.
*Photo by Pete Souza/White House