Today is Veteran’s Day in the US…a day which is to mark the signing of the Armistice that ended The War to End All Wars (WWI). As I heard on the radio this morning, the fighting stopped at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. And as we’re entrenched in war at this moment, there are those who will take this day to protest~seemingly forgetting what sacrifice by our soldiers *permit* them the freedom to protest. Whatever.
I would far prefer to say “thank you” to a veteran. It matters not to me where or when they served, but that they served. That they took time out of their lives to sacrifice, but also that their families sacrificed for something so much bigger than the individual soldier.
So THANK YOU.
I generally don’t delve in to political stuff on this blog~there are a gazillion other blogs out there that do that. But I came across this text of a speech given by the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, to our congress last week. There is more to the original text than what I’m quoting here, but what is here is quite appropriate for Veteran’s Day, I think. I hope it stirs in you the same gratitude and remembrance as what it’s stirred in me.
~sue, the proud daughter of a US Marine
RENEWING THE FRENCH-AMERICAN ALLIANCE
The United States and France remain true to the memory of their common history, true to the blood spilled by their children in common battles. But they are not true merely to the memory of what they accomplished together in the past. They remain true, first and foremost, to the same ideal, the same principles, the same values that have always united them.
Here, both the humblest and most illustrious citizens alike know that nothing is owed to them and that everything has to be earned. That’s what constitutes the moral value of America. America did not teach men the idea of freedom; she taught them how to practice it. And she fought for this freedom whenever she felt it to be threatened somewhere in the world. It was by watching America grow that men and women understood that freedom was possible.
What made America great was her ability to transform her own dream into hope for all mankind.
The men and women of my generation heard their grandparents talk about how in 1917, America saved France at a time when it had reached the final limits of its strength, which it had exhausted in the most absurd and bloodiest of wars.
The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how in 1944, America returned to free Europe from the horrifying tyranny that threatened to enslave it.
Fathers took their sons to see the vast cemeteries where, under thousands of white crosses so far from home, thousands of young American soldiers lay who had fallen not to defend their own freedom but the freedom of all others, not to defend their own families, their own homeland, but to defend humanity as a whole.
Fathers took their sons to the beaches where the young men of America had so heroically landed. They read them the admirable letters of farewell that those 20-year-old soldiers had written to their families before the battle to tell them: “We don’t consider ourselves heroes. We want this war to be over. But however much dread we may feel, you can count on us.” Before they landed, Eisenhower told them: “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”
And as they listened to their fathers, watched movies, read history books and the letters of soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy and Provence, as they visited the cemeteries where the star-spangled banner flies, the children of my generation understood that these young Americans, 20 years old, were true heroes to whom they owed the fact that they were free people and not slaves. France will never forget the sacrifice of your children.
To those 20-year-old heroes who gave us everything, to the families of those who never returned, to the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, I want to express France’s eternal gratitude.
On behalf of my generation, which did not experience war but knows how much it owes to their courage and their sacrifice; on behalf of our children, who must never forget; to all the veterans who are here today and, notably the seven I had the honor to decorate yesterday evening, one of whom, Senator Inouye, belongs to your Congress, I want to express the deep, sincere gratitude of the French people. I want to tell you that whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them and I am sad, as one is sad to lose a member of one’s family.
America’s strength is not only a material strength, it is first and foremost a spiritual and moral strength. No one expressed this better than a black pastor who asked just one thing of America: that she be true to the ideal in whose name he–the grandson of a slave–felt so deeply American. His name was Martin Luther King. He made America a universal role model.
The world still remembers his words–words of love, dignity and justice. America heard those words and America changed. And the men and women who had doubted America because they no longer recognized her began loving her again.
Fundamentally, what are those who love America asking of her, if not to remain forever true to her founding values?
–Nicolas Sarkozy, French President