On April 10, 2013, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy received the Renaissance Française-USA for the delivering of its awards. William C. Carter was honored with la Médaille d’Or du Mérite Francophone; Claude Lambert with La Médaille d’Or de Solidarité et Valeur, and Robert D. Peckham received La Médaille d’Or de la Renaissance française, its highest award. The Cultural Counselor Antonin Baudry, gave the following speech.
Dear Honorees, Dear Jane Robert, President of Renaissance française USADistinguished guests,
Good evening ! First and foremost, please allow me to express a note of the congratulations from Ambassador François Delattre. He would have loved to be here tonight to celebrate the achievements of our honorees. He asked that I convey the following to you:
“Chers Robert Peckham, Claude Lambert and William C. Carter, the French Republic is indebted to you for your passion and drive to support French education and culture in the United States. Your dedication to act as advocates for French-American cultural exchange is without bounds and tonight we thank you profoundly. Your activism ranges from French language advocacy to French-American community-building and educational initiatives to scholarly works on Marcel Proust. For these contributions and for your ability to inspire youth on campuses and in the schools to embrace French culture, we are grateful. For when one becomes acquainted with another culture at a young age, it is most often a love affair that lasts indefinitely. And so, you give France the greatest gift : the energy and support of the future generations.”
As the Ambassador stated, tonight we honor four individuals who have passionately and tirelessly devoted their careers and lives to the promotion of French culture and education.
Indeed, you enter a distinguished lineage of recipients of this prestigious Renaissance française award and there are many reasons to be proud. As the Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, I must admit that we have a long tradition of pride, or lack of modesty, but either way, I am proud to honor you.
And I am so delighted that there are, dare I say, four terrific soldiers in the battlefield doing this valiant work.
Please allow me to explain this… You see, here at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, we too work to strengthen bonds between French and Americans in culture, French language and higher education. And we do this for I believe, simply, that universities are the places where the world is being invented. The humanities remain more relevant than ever and French language has a place alongside science and technology, math, engineering in the quest for common good and knowledge. For French is not only about words, it is about Cartesian logic and about philosophy. It is about a critical and creative way of thinking.
Your actions speak to your embrace of this ideal and your accomplishments demonstrate your ability to impart your passion to Americans all around the country.
Dear Robert Peckham, your fieldwork is conducted at the University of Tennessee at Martin where you have made a real difference for French language instruction and advocacy.
To the west in San Francisco, Bernard Métais contributions allow us and the greater public glimpses into French industrial prowess. Mr. Métais is, unfortunately, unable to be here tonight.
Claude Lambert also resides in San Francisco and has done wonders for French American community building and educational initiatives in the Bay Area.
And finally, William C. Carter shares his scholarly contributions at the University of Alabama as the chair of the foreign language department. As a fellow Proustian, I must say that I am anxious to read your annotated version of Swann’s Way which comes out this year.
And so your battlegrounds, the South and West coast, are clearly defined and you succeed brilliantly in the fight for the humanities and knowledge.
Tonight dear honorees, you are at the home front as this building is the base for French culture and education. The embassy is here to support and congratulate your efforts and say that we fight alongside you!