History buffs and Francophiles, be aware!
Rep. Philip M. Crane (R-Ill.) has renewed his legislation to rename the Rochambeau Bridge as the Heroes Bridge.
If that baffles you, let's start from the top. The Rochambeau Bridge is the little-known official name adopted by Congress for the northbound 14th Street highway bridge across the Potomac River--the bridge that was struck by the Air Florida plane on Jan. 13, 1982, taking the lives of 78 plane occupants and motorists.
The Heroes for which Crane would rename the bridge are those who worked valiantly to save the survivors of the crash.
If Crane's well-intentioned bill were to become law--granting full homage to the heroes he would honor--it would erase a gracious event of Franco-American relations.
The legislation to name the bridge for Gen. Jean Baptiste de Rochambeau, a French hero of the American Revolution who helped George Washington conquer Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Va., was sponsored by the late Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr. (D-Va.) and was signed into law by President Eisenhower on July 1, 1957.
On Oct. 9, 1958, Count de Rochambeau, a descendant of the general, joined in a bridge-christening ceremony with Edith Galt Wilson, whose husband the president returned the favor, so to speak, by leading America into World War I on the side of the French in 1917.
A postscript: granted that Congress has the legal power to change the name of District of Columbia bridges, most of us locals think that's something that should be left up to our own City Council. Home rule, remember?