In the United States, whether in the outpouring of support or the critiquing of that support for Paris, the tragedy there has quickly become a tool of political and social agendas. Seeing as how there were also two separate terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon and Baghdad, Iraq, why were those locations not mentioned to the same degree? This was due to some kind of racism, to Western-only sympathy, then quickly adapted for presidential candidates’ newest method of bigotry.
But the reason why France matters so much to the United States is very simple: we are sisters in liberty.
If you were to look at a map of Detroit, Lafayette Street runs parallel with Jefferson Street. I seriously doubt this is coincidence. For those of you who don’t recall, General Lafayette was a French General who served in the Continental Army under Washington. The United States would not exist if it were not for the training and command of General Lafayette.
During the American Revolution, the French Fleet’s arrival at the Battle of Chesapeake Bay forced the retreat of the British fleet, rescuing American forces and paving the way for an American victory. The United States owes its very existence to the French.
Furthermore, a giant French statue stands proudly near New York City—the Statue of Liberty—the creator of which also created her sister who stands in Paris on the Ile aux Cygnes. In Paris, there are multiple other statues, torches and monuments in the form of Lady Liberty. This is an example of the values shared by both countries, of liberté, égalité and fraternité (liberty, equality and fraternity).
If that wasn’t reason enough to understand the special relationship between the United States and her sister, there is an area of France that was given to the United States, on sacred ground located near a site once called Omaha Beach, Normandy. At this mass gravesite there are 9,387 Americans—some of our Greatest Generation who gave the last full measure of devotion for our country, and for the freedom of Europe.
The French and the United States have fought and bled together. They have died side by side. I do not mean to degrade other tragedies around the world, nor should the anger of this attack be used for bigotry in an election. What I am stating is that when Americans identify largely with an attack on France over the events within different countries, there is a logic to it. To Americans who remember their history, an attack on Paris is an attack on New York, Detroit and Chicago. It is an attack on our very existence.
Vive la France. Long live France.