Yorktown festivities mark America's 1781 victory; French official cites bond, need for respect

Friday, October 20th 2006, 11:39 am
By: News On 6

YORKTOWN, Va. (AP) -- French and Americans marched together to mark their shared victory over the British 225 years ago, but France's defense minister told the crowd that the countries' bond must be one of mutual respect.

Friendship means "to talk to one another quite candidly" and to listen to one another with "no attempt to dominate," French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told the crowd that gathered Thursday to commemorate the Battle of Yorktown's 225th anniversary.

British Gen. Charles Cornwallis surrendered on Oct. 19, 1781, sealing the American colonists' victory in the Revolutionary War. French troops under Gen. Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau had joined U.S. troops under Gen. George Washington in routing the redcoats.

The anniversary festivities, which continue through the weekend, also included a parade Thursday featuring representatives of all branches of the U.S. military and the French Navy.

The event is part of an 18-month series of events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the 1607 founding of America's first permanent English settlement in Jamestown, about 20 miles from the battlefield.

Alliot-Marie spoke Thursday of the "pact of friendship sealed in Yorktown" that continues to bind the United States and France. France will never forget the help it got in two world wars, she said.

The countries have sparred in recent years, particularly over France's opposition to the war in Iraq. Alliot-Marie said friendship means having an "independent vision without excessive reverence, without blind submission." But being independent does not mean neglecting one's friends, particularly with the threat of terrorism, she added.