The Order of Lafayette

The Order of Lafayette is a patriotic, hereditary, nonpartisan, and fraternal organization that was established in New York City in 1958 by Colonel Hamilton Fish (1888-1991), a distinguished Congressman from New York and decorated veteran of the First World War. The Order's patron is the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), the French officer who served with honor, distinction, and bravery alongside the "Father of Our Country," General George Washington (1732-1799) during the American Revolution. Its principles are "God, Unity, Peace Honor."

A serving officer of the famed 369th Regiment ("The Harlem Hellfighters"), New York Army National Guard, Colonel Fish founded the Order of Lafayette as a society to give recognition to all commissioned officers of the United States Armed Forces, male or female, who served in France during World War I, or in France or French possessions during World War II. It also includes United States officers who served in France during World War I in the Lafayette Escadrille Flying Corps, the American Field Service, or with the Allies. Military service in France includes participating in an invasion or flight within the coastal areas of France or French possessions.

American enlisted men who served in France or in French possessions during World War I or World War II, and who were commissioned later are also eligible for membership in the Order of Lafayette, as well as commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers of the French Foreign Legion.

Membership in the order is also open to all recipients, regardless of rank, of the Congressional medal of Honor or the French Medaille Militaire who served in France or French possessions during World War I or World War II, and are admitted as members without having to pay dues to the Order.

All lineal descendants, male or female, of original members, or those who would have qualified as original members, are eligible for full membership in the Order on reaching the age of twenty-one years.

The Order participates in a number of patriotic activities, such as the annual Armistice Day Memorial Mass at Saint Vincent de Paul's R.C. Church held in November in New York City, the Graduation Convocation of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, where the Order of Lafayette Award is given to a distinguished graduate, social and cultural gatherings to promote a better understanding, spirit of cooperation and support for the betterment of French and American relations, the beautiful and inspiring "Massing of the Colors" ceremony in Autumn, and other annual events conducted under the auspices of the Order.

Membership in the Order of Lafayette entitles one to wear the beautiful enameled medal of the Order, made by Arthus Betrand of Paris, France, which is a white cross that bears a profile of the Marquis de Lafayette in its center surrounded by laurel leaves, as well as the membership rosette that is worn on one's lapel.

The flag of the Order of Lafayette was designed by Mr. Kenneth A. Menken. It is based on the French Tricolor, but with thirteen stars and the Order of Lafayette's insignia added to it. The flag recall's France's tremendous contributions to the struggle for American independence during the American Revolution, and at the same time, America's valiant defense of freedom on French soil during two titanic conflicts, the First and Second World Wars.

For further information on the Order, or to seek membership in its honored ranks, please contact LITC Bruce A. Laue, President General of the Order of Lafayette, at:

Vive la France! God bless America!

Brother Denis P. McGowan is a dedicated fraternalist and student of the history of American fraternal organizations.




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