What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Encounters

How Lafayette Became America’s “Favorite Fighting Frenchman”

Honoring a Revolutionary War Hero with Statues, Parks, and Disney Films

"Marquis de Lafayette" engine panel painting, Lafayette Hose Company of Philadelphia. Ca 1830-1849. Image courtesy of Division of Home and Community Life, National Museum of American History.

By Laura Auricchio

If you live in the United States, you’ve probably come across a county, city, street, park, school, shop, or restaurant named for Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), the most beloved French hero of the American Revolution. In New York City, my home town, I’ve spotted three different Lafayette Avenues, one Lafayette Street, a Lafayette playground, and four public sculptures of the Marquis. Although there’s no official count, Lafayette probably has more American locations named for him than any …

Journeys

With Crocheting Needles, My Immigrant Grandmother Wove a New Life in America

A 16th-Century Folk Art Was Her Passport from Sicily to Upstate New York

The author’s grandmothers, circa 1940. Left, Angelina Ferrara Palleschi (maternal grandmother), and Teresa Munafo Salamone (paternal grandmother). Photo courtesy of Kathleen Garrett.

By Kathleen Garrett

The winter rains had subsided for the moment, but the coastal night air remained chilly and damp. My rent-controlled apartment, with its lack of insulation, mirrored the outside evening temperature, as I sat at my desk struggling to meet a self-imposed deadline. Shoes aren’t allowed in my home, not even for me, and with porous window seals in this old building and its wooden floors, my cold feet needed something warm to cover them.

I’d been away from Santa Monica …