By Daniel Smiechowski
How soon we forget. Let truth be told in no uncertain terms and straight as an arrow.
Flashback to the dark days of late 2002 and early 2003 when “Bring em on,” and “Shock and awe” were all the rage. Americans rallied in the streets like a swarm of locusts in the Western Sahara. Down with the French pansies they chanted while pouring French wine down the gutter.
Former French President Jacques Chirac had admonished President Bush not to invade Iraq and called his decision the worst foreign policy blunder in all of America’s history. The President of the French Republic was burned in effigy by crazed Republicans who renamed the popular French fries “freedom fries.” French flags were stolen from my home and I was routinely insulted by neighbors for supporting the French.
American society knows little if anything about America’s friendship with our oldest ally. Why don’t these elected Republicans mention the fact that French President Francois Hollande and his sixty-six million fellow citizens love the United States more than we love them? Why don’t they mention the fact that Secretary of State John Kerry grew up in Saint Briuec sur Mer, Brittany or that President Kennedy’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger owned a chateau in France? It all started with American Statesman Benjamin Franklin’s visit to Normandy over two hundred years ago.
Indeed, the City of Light came close to burning under the Vichy regime as the German occupation continued between 1940—44. The Maginot Line fell in thirty days and America saved the Republic. The French are thankful and will forever remember our great sacrifice on the Normandy beaches. Despite America not sending a high level official to Paris, the French love the United States.
Daniel Smiechowski has lived and studied in France.