Lafayette and LaGrange as Destination

December 19, 2017 Journal

Georgia House Resolution 899 was put in the hopper January 18, 2018, by Representative Randy Nix and co-sponsors Trammell and Pezold, and passed unanimously:  “Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives that the members of this body recognize September 6 of each year as Marquis de Lafayette Day in the State of Georgia.”

LaGrange was out front of this charge as far back as September 6, 2007:  “Now, therefore, I, Jeff Lukken, Mayor of the City of LaGrange, do hereby proclaim September 6 as an annual day of celebration and remembrance in the City of LaGrange.”

Lafayette’s life is one adventure after another.  He was, in turn:  orphaned, shot at, celebrated, imprisoned, bankrupted, and celebrated again.  From wealthy frocks to poverty-stained rags he never loses the common touch.  Bankrupt and living on borrowed cash—even then—he keeps an optimistic, hopeful spirit, in no way contrived.   He mirrors the best in Jefferson, King, and Ghandi, with sufficient miscues to make him human.

Lafayette sets the bar high for America.  Here is what he expects:  “The welfare of America is intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind; she will become the respectable and safe asylum of virtue, integrity, tolerance, equality, and a peaceful liberty.”

LaGrange has a legitimate claim to Lafayette’s legacy:  the statue downtown and his home’s namesake on our archway.

We ought to claim the legacy, make it relevant, and work to become a destination for visitors to Discover and Learn Lafayette.  This calls for a campaign with all variety of presentation, from drama, music, and debate to comic books, coffee mugs, and baseball caps.  This is a cottage industry, a commercial arm in service to a legacy worth claiming.

It is more than commerce.

Lafayette is a story worth telling.  It is a story to which every quarter of our community can rally.  It can create the bridging relationships that make social capital, community bonds working to realize a collective sentiment.

The musical “Hamilton” revitalized Broadway.  It is a cottage industry; but it is more than commerce.  Audiences exit with minds broadened and spirit strengthened.   Lin-Manuel Miranda said the work of staging “Hamilton” was civic enterprise:  shared purpose that creates unifying power that results in community cohesion and solidarity.

LaGrange can add to its luster noble purpose:  the place to come to Discover and Learn Lafayette.

Richard L. Ingram

Lafayette Alliance