"La Culture française, c’est ma vie."

On January 17, 2018, Consul General Valéry Freland decorated Mary Louise Burke with the French Legion of Honor. Mary Louise Burke, who asked for a very intimate ceremony at the Consulate General of France in Boston, is the President of the Strasbourg-Boston Sister City Association.


Yesterday, Consul General of France in Boston, Valéry Freland, was deeply moved to honor Mrs. Mary Louise Burke, a great lady from New England, a francophone and real Francophile who spent her life promoting French culture.

As President of the Strasbourg-Boston Sister City Association for many years, Mary Louise Burke did a tremendous work, always reinforcing and strengthening the longstanding Franco-American friendship.


When Consul General, Valéry Freland, bestowed upon her the French Legion of Honor and declared Mrs Burke, Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, Mary Louise shared with us:

"La culture française, c’est ma vie."


Learn more about the Strasbourg-Boston Sister City Association:
The association has fostered the relationship between the sister cities of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Strasbourg, Alsace, France for over 50 years! Boston and Strasbourg began their association in 1960 thanks to the inspiration of Strasbourg native, Charles Munch, then conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Over the last 57 years, the BSSCA has entertained Strasbourg mayors, sponsored numerous student exchanges, sent Bostonians to the European Parliament, scientists to French laboratories, business students on internships, and enabled bakers, firemen, community gardeners, artists, and musicians to visit their sister city.
More info on its website:

Read the speech by Mr. Valéry Freland, Consul General of France in Boston
At the occasion of the bestowal of the insignia of Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honor to Mary Louise BURKE, President of the Boston Strasbourg Sister City Association - Consulate General of France in Boston - January 17, 2017

“Dear Mary Louise Burke,

I am truly delighted to welcome you today to the Consulate General of France in Boston to bestow upon you, in the name of the President of the French Republic, the insignia of Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur.

This distinction rewards outstanding accomplishments and remarkable services rendered to France. Since it was founded by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802, the Legion of Honor has been France’s highest distinction –and one of the most coveted in the world. Your nomination in this order is a token of our recognition of your valuable work on furthering the French-American friendship.

Chère Mary Louise, francophone, vous l’êtes, bien sûr, vous qui avez enseigné le français, comme l’espagnol d’ailleurs, au sein des écoles publiques de Boston. Mais vous êtes également, et c’est de notoriété publique ici en Nouvelle Angleterre, francophile. Votre carrière semble tout entière dévouée à entretenir cette amitié franco-américaine que vous avez à cœur. En tant qu’enseignante de Français, vous avez contribué activement à la diffusion et au rayonnement de notre langue, ce pour quoi nous vous avons déjà manifesté notre gratitude en 2005 en vous remettant des palmes académiques amplement méritées.

Depuis 2001, vous êtes la Présidente de la fameuse Boston Strasbourg Sister City Association qui, créée par Charles Munch, se consacre depuis près de 58 ans au rapprochement de ces deux villes qui ont tant en commun – et qui nous sont chères à l’un et à l’autre - et, plus largement, au renforcement des liens entre la France et la Nouvelle-Angleterre. Votre implication et votre dévouement dans l’animation de cette association ont permis de faire du jumelage Boston-Strasbourg l’un des partenariats avec la France les plus actifs de la Côte Est.

Not only do you encourage the learning of French for children and the creation of partnerships between schools, but you also foster an incredible environment for international cultural dialogue to blossom. In particular, you regularly organize the official visits of representatives of Strasbourg to Boston, as in 2016, with the critical visit of Roland Ries, mayor of Strasbourg.

As President of the Boston Strasbourg Sister City Association, you have organized numerous cultural events and exchanges involving artists, curators, musicians, and also students and teachers. You were notably in charge of the impressive celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of this institution in 2010. You also initiated, among other operations, Par avion, an interactive art project which paired artists from Boston and Strasbourg and later displayed their collaborative pieces of art in a joint exhibition held in 2012. More recently, in 2016, you launched and accompanied the Ex Libris ExChange, which was an international collaborative art project sponsored by your association and including 26 artists from Boston and Strasbourg. The exhibition of these art works at the French Cultural center was a tremendous success.

These were only some examples in many of your initiatives to strengthen the ties between Strasbourg and Boston, but beyond that, between France and the United States. Throughout the years, Dear Mary-Louise, you have contributed significantly to the advancement of French interest in New England.

For all this, for a life greatly dedicated to the promotion of French culture and language, the President of the French Republic has decided to award you this prestigious distinction that I am now going to present you on his behalf.

Mary Louise Burke, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons Chevalier dans l’ordre de la Légion d’Honneur.”

Last modified on 18/01/2018

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