A delegation from France was in Lexington over the weekend, not to buy race horses, or try to sell us something from there, but just out of friendship for America and Lexington.
These were students, businessmen and women, teachers, reporters, civil servants, retirees---similar to Lexington delegations which have gone to France, too---for the past SIXTY years.
All part of the Sister Cities program, founded by President Eisenhower. Lexington was the 2nd city to join that program, and we had the good luck to be “twined” with Deauville---a seaside resort in France’s horse country. It worked so well that we became “twined” (which is what the Europeans call the program) with other cities in horse areas around the world—in Ireland, England, and Japan. (Studies are under way for new sister cities in Spain and South America as the program grows.) The city staffs and funds an office to manage this program (which also includes sending high school and college exchange students to study abroad in our sister cities.)
Adults, such as my late wife and I, paid our own way in the city organized, economical group trips there...and local Sister City committees showed off those areas, had us stay in their homes, and get to know them much better and more personally than many commercial tours.
That may be at the heart of the program. We met a fine couple in Deauville and ended up touring “their France” for several weeks. They stayed with us when here. Fine, close, and lasting friendships followed...and exist to this day. I had not seen some of my French friends for ten years, but when invited to lunch with them by my longtime councilmember, Bill Farmer who now heads the council committee overseeing this program, it was as if we had only parted the week before.
If such a program interests you, or your children (I really regret that mine have never taken part in this endeavor) get in touch with the Sister City office at city hall.
In this world of so many conflicts, bringing people of different cultures and history together is important...for once you get to know them, as 60 years of Lexington’s relations with Deauville, France proves...
I'm just sayin'...