Thursday, November 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Lafayette, we remember!

I am a Francophile. I admire the French culture and the way of living that is pursued by the people of France. It's a sentiment that is shared by many - I think most - Americans, and it has strong historical roots.

After all, France was our first foreign ally. Without their aid, that 1770s war to secure independence from Britain might have turned out quite differently.


One of the qualities of a true friendship is that that friend will tell you when you are doing something stupid. So it was when our former president, George W. Bush, determined to invade Iraq after the attacks of 09/11/01. France did not support that invasion and argued against it. 

For standing up against a bully, France's reward was jingoistic members of Congress engaging in the silliness of trying to rename French fries as "freedom fries" and calling the French all sorts of insulting and bellicose names. 

These are some of the same politicians who are today inveighing against Syrian refugees and demanding that they be turned away from our borders. The Syrian refugees have become this year's freakout crisis for them in the same way Ebola or the unaccompanied children who flooded to our southern border seeking refuge were in recent years. These people are always terrified of something and trying to scare the rest of us into joining them in their bigotry. We must not let them succeed. We must stand strong and celebrate our culture - like the French.

In 2012, I marked my Francophilism with this post on July 14, the French National Day. The week after the attacks in Paris seems like a good time to repeat it.

Lafayette, we still remember.   

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Lafayette, we remember!

Today is the French National Day. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 during the French revolution. We commonly think of it as Bastille Day. In France, it is celebrated with parades, patriotic speeches, and fireworks, not unlike our own Independence Day.

France and the United States have historic ties going back to our country's Revolutionary War when the Marquis de Lafayette, a French patriot, fought on the side of our fledgling country. It has sometimes been a prickly relationship but blood ties are strong. When the United States entered World War I on the side of France, a group of military officers with Gen. John Pershing visited the tomb of Lafayette where one of the officers - some reports say Pershing, some say one of his aides - uttered the phrase, "Lafayette, we are here!" implying that they had come to repay a debt of honor.

On this French National Day, we remember again that debt and we wish our French friends and their new government well during this difficult time as they work to reverse the economic troubles of the European Union. Vive la France!



Lafayette, we remember.

2 comments:

  1. I can say that Paris, where I have visited twice, is one of my favorite cities. But that is of course from a tourist's POV. I have never lived there or anywhere in France. I think my favorite books about Paris are Simone de Beauvoir's memoirs. One of these days I will read Edward Rutherfurd's tome about its history. What recent events have reminded me is that every city has a romantic image and then there is real life.

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    1. Indeed. The romance doesn't often line up with what is real life for most of the people, but maybe it comes close in Paris.

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