I am a student at Lafayette College and last weekend, we celebrated Marquis de
My hometown is Bethlehem, PA, and I spent plenty of time around Lafayette and downtown Easton growing up, so I had to respond to this. I hope things are well there with you.
I agree with my colleague Amy Kind that people can harmed (or benefited) even if they're unaware of it, and so in a sense even the dead can be harmed (or benefited). A colleague of mine used to speak of harm in terms not of experience but interests, and one of the the interests that some people have might be described as a narrative interest--that is, an interest in the story of their life. Most of us, I think, have an interest in our reputations. Some of us maintain an interest in producing a reputation that endures after we've died. Such an interest might, I think, be something not terribly admirable--a product of vanity and excessive pride or ambition. But an interest in an enduring reputation might be morally virtuous to the extent it, say, sustains a family name or enhances the reputation of a good institution (perhaps a college or a nation) to which one was connected. So, celebrating the Marquis's memory not only in a strange way benefits him. It also benefits France, the United States, his descendants, etc. (But, of course, harm and benefit aren't exactly the terms you used. As to whether or not the celebration is "valuable" to him, I'd have to say that strictly speaking it's not.)
Now, should we all try to be remembered by future generations? Generally, no. Having a famous ancestor is a good thing for many people and institutions, but hardly necessary. Institutions are for the most part fully well capable of flourishing whether or not any famous dead people are connected to them.
Having said that, it is nevertheless, important to recognize this: regardless of whether it benefits the Marquis to celebrate him, it's a good thing for us to remember past people who have made valuable contributions to our present condition. I might go so far, in fact, to say that the cultivation of an historical memory of this sort is a key ingredient of to civilization. There are lots of reasons for celebratory historical memory being a good thing for us. The dead often present useful role models, they serve as better reminders of important principles and values than abstract ideas, they can inspire and motivate us, and remember them contributes to a sense of self-worth and identity.
So, don't be concerned very much with being remembered and celebrated yourself, but do turn to the past and dig up someone to remember and to celebrate.
And Go Leopards!