May 7, 2009 – I went to Philadelphia last week to attend, along with about 55 other guests, the friendly Francophile ceremony by which Joanne Silver received the decoration of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques, the most prestigious honor a scholar or academician can receive from the French Government. Adding further weight to the decoration is the fact that the French ambassador to the United States, Pierre Vimont, in person came to Philadelphia to pin the palms on Joanne.
The Palmes académiques, established in 1808 by Napoléon Bonaparte, recognizes those who have advanced the cause of French culture, education, and the arts and made active contribution to the expansion of French culture throughout the world.
Joanne fit the bill for her years of teaching French, her involvement with the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) and other Franco-American organizations, and her work as publisher of Francophile books, in French and in English, at Beach Lloyd Publishers, whose mission is “to recognize the strong historical and ideological ties that bind France and the United States, and to view those ideals globally.”
Before the ceremony began, former Honorary Consul of France to Philadelphia Daniele Thomas Easton introduced me (and my work on FranceRevisited.com) to Ambassador Vimont. I didn’t dare ask the ambassador to sign up for the France Revisited Newsletter seeing as half my friends have yet to do so, but the three of us had a nice chat about this site nonetheless.
Below is a photo, left to right, of me, the ambassador and the former honorary consul. Michael E. Scullin, current Honorary Consul of France to Philadelphia, was caught in the photo to the right. (Click on all photos to enlarge).
Below is a photo of Ambassador Vimont pinning the palms on Joanne’s lapel, after which he gave her the traditional kiss on each check that seals the deal.
Joanne then posed for the official photograph with Ambassador Vilmont, left, and Honorary Consul Michael E. Scullin, right.
Below Joanne proudly displays her palms, freshly pinned.
Also in attendance among the Francophile luminaries of Philadelphia and illustrious guests from the U.S. Canada, and France were some of the members of the Board of the Alliance Francaise de Philadelphie. Among them, left to right in the photo below, were Alliance Board Members Delphine Lawrence (Secretary), Martine Chauvet (Executive Director), Joanne Silver, Lynn H. Miller (who has contributed an article about Frenchtown, N.J. to France Revisited), and Diana Regan (President).
Bravo et félicitations, Joanne!
Postscript: In Oct. 2010 Pierre Vimont was named Executive Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), an entity of the European Union responsible for developing the diplomatic service of the EU.