Remise de la Légion d’Honneur à M. Ross Steele (12 mars 2009)
M. Ross Steele, écrivain et professeur honoraire de français à l’Université de Sydney, Président de la section Australie de la Société d’entraide des membres de la Légion d’Honneur, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (1996), Officier de l’Ordre des Palmes académiques (1992), Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (1985), a reçu, le 12 mars 2009, les insignes d’Officier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur.
La cérémonie de la remise de décoration a eu lieu à la résidence de l’Ambassade de France.
Discours de M. l’Ambassadeur
Lt General Benoît Puga
B. General Alain Picard, Vice President of the Members’ of Légion d’Honneur Charity Organization,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Prof. Ross Steele
I had many good reasons this evening to deliver my speech in its French version. Since :
Here we are in the French official Residence in Canberra ;
Here we are gathered to see the most prestigious French distinction to be awarded - the Légion d’Honneur - at a prominent rank : Officer
Here we are gathered to pay tribute to Prof Ross Steele.
But I am feeling that, this very logical way of thinking, typically a French one, suffers of a severe
Prof Ross Steele, you are outstanding when you come to speak this fluent, elegant and rigorous French which is yours.
Therefore how could I do elaborate in my mother language with such an intellectual and academic supervisor ?
Contrary to some assumptions, French language is a very easy one to go through : with some two hundred words you may survive nicely in France : to stepping into hotels, to coping with the waiters in the restaurants, even to dealing with Parisian taxi drivers, which is, by the way, a genuine achievement including for the French natives.
But when it comes to having to speak in a good French language, it appears to be a different story : like something as trying to reach an other planet.
Prof Steele is a living symbol of life long dedication to control a language, to absorb a culture to dialogue with a civilization, and more over to understand a way of thinking.
Beyond your academic achievements Professor which have been already recognized through
many distinctions (AM, Palmes Académiques, Ordre National du Mérite, Légion d’Honneur), I wish to profile you in some very simple words :
Exceptional in understanding the French mind set, you turned to be a bridge between our two countries.
Exceptional in giving a strong taste of France, you have exercised an influence over many members of the Australian elite members.
Today Catherine and I have the privilege to welcome some of their representatives.
Today I will not read the letter coming from the upper level of the Commonwealth to congratulate you and expressing regrets to not be able to attend this ceremony ;
some other letters from prominent front benchers have come to me, expressing the same feelings.
Today we must acknowledge that along your tireless activities you have served and you still serve the promotion of the relations between our two people and our two countries.
Today, the current trend of the relations between our two countries is paying tribute to your commitment : never than before we have been in a such close relationship. And never than before we do hope that the whole political and intellectual Australian communities will support such an evolution.
Vous êtes tout à la fois, M. le professeur, une personnalité de réflexion, d’action et de distinction.
Ces qualités sont celles de l’honnête homme, celles de l’homme des Lumières. Celles de la France.
I was just stating that the Prof Ross Steele was a perfect representative of the highly prized spirit of the Enlightenments.
A knowledge, an action, an influence and above all of that, eloquence.
Pour ces motifs et mérites,
« Au nom du Président de la République, et en vertu des pouvoirs qui nous ont été conférés, nous vous élevons au rang d’Officier dans l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur »