Ceremony Honoring Veterans of WWII
Speech given by Consul general of France in Chicago, Jean-Baptiste Main de Boissière, on the occasion of the ceremony "Lest We Forget our Vets" in presence of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.
Kalamazoo, May 29 2007
Veterans of the D-Day Landings,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today we gather to pay tribute to the soldiers of freedom, to the legendary heroes of Operation Overlord.
Our presence together at this great event “Lest We Forget” is a reminder to younger generations of the true significance of a war that continues to shape our understanding of the world.
France will never forget.
She will never forget those men who made the supreme sacrifice to liberate our soil, our country, our continent. Nor will she ever forget her debt to America, her everlasting friend, thanks to whom Europe now lives in peace, freedom and democracy.
I want to salute the courage of these men who fought for freedom. Overcoming fear, by the rightness of their struggle and the strength of their ideal, they altered the course of history and so conferred a new stature on mankind, nations and peoples. These soldiers of freedom took up arms to ensure the triumph of the values to which men and women everywhere aspire : a vision of humanity and human dignity, of peace, freedom, and democracy.
The message of France today, is a message of friendship and brotherhood, a message of appreciation and gratitude.
The sacrifice of those young Americans echoed the one made by Lafayette’s soldiers during the American Revolution. For more than 200 years, the same humanist values have shaped the destinies of France and America. Our common history is built upon a friendship of heart and spirit, a friendship nourished by our countries’ shared conception of mankind, a vision of the world that lies at the heart
of the united nation charter.
This friendship remains intact to this day : confident, exigent, founded in mutual respect. America is our eternal ally, and that alliance and solidarity are all the stronger for having been forged in those terrible hours.
In 2004, we commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of the D-Day Landing in Normandy, which constituted a crucial moment in contemporary history. The French people, throughout the country, joined together to honor the memory of American soldiers who, at the cost of their lives for thousands of them, made it possible to overcome tyranny and have liberty prevail in Western Europe. On this occasion, a special medal was created to recognize those who fought on D-Day and in the subsequent battle of Normandy.
In presenting the Normandy badges to these American veterans here today, I wanted on behalf of the people of France, to bear witness once more, this morning, to this long standing friendship and to our gratitude and remembrance.
The sacrifice of our fathers and the values for which they gave their lives forged our common heritage and implemented duties for us. A duty of remembrance and a duty of fidelity to our values, so that our generation may build and pass on to children a world of progress and freedom. To build that society of respect and dialogue, of tolerance and solidarity.
Vive les Etats-Unis ! Vive la France ! Vive l’amitié franco-américaine !