Despite the heavy rain, the American and Monegasque anthems did indeed resound a stone’s throw from the Place d’Armes. A ceremony was held on Monday, in the presence of Prince Albert II and Princess Caroline, in front of the bronze commemorative plaque, affixed at the foot of the Rock in 1922. A tribute to the American soldiers welcomed in Monaco in 1919, at the end of the First World War. A century, therefore, that the Principality has opened doors and borders to thousands of heroes from across the Atlantic to help the Allies.
“Throughout the First World War, Monaco hosted wounded, Allied and European soldiers,” said Thomas Fouilleron, Director of the Archives of the Princely Palace. When the United States went to war, when American troops arrived in Europe, Prince Albert I wanted to give them the same hospitality. He was a great admirer of the United States, which he knew well, and of his democracy.
The ruler of the time began the process in September 1918 but the soldiers did not arrive until early 1919, the war having, in the meantime, ended with the armistice of 11 November. From 21 January to 15 May 1919, 20,215 soldiers stayed in La Condamine and Monte-Carlo, housed in 37 hotels and 15 furnished guest houses. In a speech on April 6 of that year, Prince Albert I explained the reason for this invitation to them.
“When you return to your homes, you will remember that we wanted to draw the smile of our own homes on your lips by sharing your sorrows; and that the memory of your dead has penetrated forever into the depths of our hearts.” The commemorative plaque was affixed in November 1922, at the initiative of the Young Men’s Christian Association, a few months after the death of Prince Albert I.
On Monday, the presence of the Prince’s Carabinieri Band and the US Air Force Guard of Honour symbolized this century-old friendship.