One person who might be able to tell me is an old lady who was born in Paris but now lives in New York. Her place of birth was so important that there is still a plaque today on the very spot that she came into the world. Her name? The statue of liberty.
Like many other immigrants, she has become more closely connected with her country of adoption than her country of origin, even going as far as becoming a symbol of her new land. In truth, it was easy for her. She was welcomed as a star on her arrival, and went to a place which has always been defined by immigration, and where almost all its inhabitants can trace their origins back to other lands.
Artist Paul Joseph Victor Dargaud captures the birth of the statue of liberty, before she grew too large for Paris.
In France, the relationship with immigrants has always been more difficult, and there is no symbol holding out a shining light to welcome new arrivals (ironic therefore that she should be born in this land). I know that I am in a privilieged position to be an immigrant by choice and not financial or political necessity, and to come from a place that is seen positively (albeit with some suspicion!) in the country, but to my French friends, colleagues and family I will always be the Englishman.
However, there is no plaque at my birthplace. In fact my exact place of birth no longer exists - the hospital in which I was born was demolished several years ago - but I still have a paper, a language, an accent, physical traces and roots that refuse to snap.
A mystery - solved!
The statue of liberty was born on the Rue de Chazelles near the Parc Monceau in the 17th arrondissement. Like my hospital, the atelier (the foundry of Gayet where the casts were made) has been replaced by something else in what is now a very residential environment.
The question I had asked was who was Milt Forrest and what was his role in this initiative? Thanks to Philippa from the Parisian fields blog, I now have the answer. This Milt Forrest was a Hollywood businessman with a passion for stamp collecting. He just happened to be in Paris at around the 75th anniversary of the statue, and bought a special edition stamp - by chance from a shop opposite the studio in which the statue was built. After discovering that there was no permanent marker for this spot, he vowed to pay for one to be put up, something that was done a few months later.
Is this the same Milt Forrest? ('Milt Forrest, Hollywood advertising man and originator of the air mail postcard') I hope so because it's a great photo!