August 16, 2004

Rerun: Vive La France

This entry was originally posted at my old site. It's a brief summary of the entwined histories of France and the U.S.A. with an editorial bent.

This isn't exactly a popular stance to take in America these days, but I have to say what I feel...I don't hate France.

They did us a pretty big favor back in the Revolutionary War days. Frenchmen sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to help us fight the British. One of their primary motivations was to stab Britain in the back, but it worked for us.

The French support of our war almost sent France into bankruptcy. The resulting economic hardship, coupled with American success at overthrowing an oppressive government, set the stage for the French Revolution in 1789.

Throughout the following century America and France had their share of ups and most relationships do. By the time 1800 rolled around, it looked like a war with Napoleon's France was inevitable. However, Napoleon had a change of heart regarding his interests in North America and we peacefully purchased the Louisiana Territory from him for $15 million in 1803.

For the American centennial in 1876, France wanted to do something nice for us. What they came up with was a 151'1" tall statue titled "Liberty Enlightening the World." Our Statue of Liberty arrived in 1885, and has grown from a symbol of the friendship between France and America to a global symbol of freedom.

During our country's formative years, the French were instrumental in helping us gain our independence. In the 20th century we had a chance to repay them. World War I began in the summer of 1914, and the U.S. remained neutral. For several years of fighting, the Germans attempted to take France. France and Great Britain kept the Germans from advancing, but after Germany began sinking unarmed ships America joined the Allies in 1917. The war was over in 1918.

Then came September 1, 1939...World War II began when Hitler's army invaded Poland. America declared its neutrality at once while Canada almost immediately declared war on Germany. By June, 1940 Germany controlled most of Europe. Paris had fallen when the French were pushed back by the German blitzkrieg. Great Britain stood alone against Hitler and within a month Italy joined the Axis. The United States remained neutral while Europe fell to Hitler's powerful military machine.

It wasn't until Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 that America entered the war. On June 6, 1944--four years after Paris fell--the Allies landed at Normandy. In 1945 the bloodiest war in history finally ended. Lots of people have been talking about how France "owes us" for World War II. My opinion is that we're even.

They don't owe us anything. We don't owe them anything.

Posted by Jennifer at August 16, 2004 08:05 AM