Dunkirk and Dunkerque rekindle a friendship

A tale of two cities

Deputy Mayor of Dunkerque, France Karima Banarap and City of Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas meet at the French Embassy in Washington D.C. on April 4 to exchange gifts and rekindle a friendship between the sister cities.

On April 4, Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas drove with his wife, younger son and brother, Hector, to Washington D.C. Their destination, the French Embassy, to meet with an eager group of staff members and teenagers from the Dunkirk’s sister city — Dunkerque, France.

“We were doing a big promotion of the release of the movie ‘Dunkirk’ in 2017,” Rosas explained to the OBSERVER. “And we reached out to Dunkerque, France and their mayor and simply said that ‘we wanted to rekindle the relationship and to start communicating with them.'”

Rosas went on to share the background leading up to the clandestine meeting, stating that the mayor there, Patrice Vergriete, then started to write to him, thanking Rosas on reaching out to them. Eventually, Dunkirk sent them some gifts and among them was a plaque. Vergriete then reached out to the French ambassador in Washington D.C.

“They originally wanted me to meet with them in New York City when he came over, but when he arrived I couldn’t get there,” Rosas explained. “So then they said they were planning a trip to Washington and they asked if I could make that trip to the French embassy there. I told them I would try to, and it turned out I had an opening in my schedule. I decided to make the trip.”

Vergriete asked the ambassador to present Rosas with an award which he did, it was a medal that emblazoned with Rosas’ name and the title of ‘Mayor of Dunkirk USA’, he also presented Rosas with a book. In turn, Rosas presented them with a proclamation and a key to the city, as well as a city pin.

“Our city’s history is something that we should never forget and we have had a really close relationship with the city in France in the past.” Rosas said. “We want to reconnect with them now and I think it’s important that years ago our city befriended them with the donations and such and we should keep that alive and flowing. I think the recognition that the city of Dunkirk received by being there and doing that was important for us to continue that relationship.”

In 2020, Rosas has been invited to Dunkerque, France to attend the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the evacuation of the city — and he’s planning on making it out there.

“Whether or not I’m mayor at that time, my family and I still wish to make the trip, it’ll be a personal trip of ours regardless, our yearly vacation.”