I would like to take a moment today and express my fondness and appreciation for the nation of France.
While most Americans will be having picnics, attending parades, and watching fireworks later today to celebrate American Independence, it is important for us to take a look at where we came from.
Our founding fathers originally considered themselves British citizens, until they chose the path of rebellion. After that decision, they were considered traitors to the crown and obvious targets for the hangmans noose.
While our founding fathers were philosopher kings with terrific ideas about personal freedom, they had no real way of making their ideas become reality without help. They were facing the British Empire, the most powerful force the world had ever known.
Our greatest leader, George Washington, had a terrible time fighting the British. He was understaffed and under-supported, and as a result, lost many of his early battles.
When the French stepped into the War in 1778, it turned the tide of history. Suddenly the British had to deal with naval battles on their side of the Atlantic that slowed their transportation of troops to the American theater. The Spanish and Dutch entered the War soon after and made the situation worse for the British.
Nobody really knows why the French entered the War on the side of the Americans. Some attribute it to their long-standing animosity with England. "A Thousand Years of Hate" is a common phrase used by citizens of both countries. But disliking England was not enough to provoke their entry into the War. In all probability, France was most likely just doing what was best for France. Choosing sides with the American rebels and helping England lose those valuable colonies was in France's best interest. It made the British weaker and helped diminish their status as a world power and as a competitor.
Later on, the French citizens -- encouraged by the American results -- overthrew their monarchy and executed the King of France by guillotine in 1793.
The world has never been the same.
There are very few monarchs anywhere in the world that actually have any real power anymore.
America went from the freezing, shoeless soldiers at Valley Forge in 1777 to putting a man on the moon in 1969.
They did it in less than 200 years.
America showed the world that by freeing your people from tyranny, there were no limits to what you could accomplish. Democracies have broken out all over the world. Nearly 50% of the world lives under some form of democracy now.
Many Americans tend to focus on the assistance we provided to France in World War 1 and World War 2 as an example that France owes us some type of debt or favors.
In reality, we Americans are just repaying a debt we can never fully retire.
Free people all over the world owe a debt to the French -- for assisting America in 1778 and allowing it to become what it has become today -- the vanguard for human freedom across the globe.
At some point today, I will say what I say every July 4th...
"Vive Le France!"