My husband and I lived in France for a year. I developed some deep friendships with some French people in the church where we were serving and learned a great deal of our joint history.
The Statue of Liberty
A joint project between France and America, the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty was built by Americans and the statue itself, designed and built by French artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, was completed in France, disassembled and shipped to the United States. An icon of freedom, the official name of the Statue is the “Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.” The statue was a gift from the people of France and symbolizes the friendship between the two countries.
The Allied assault on D-Day (June 6,1944) aimed to liberate France and drive into Nazi Germany. Over 9,387 Americans are buried in the American cemetery in Normandy with an additional 1557 names inscribed on the Walls of the Missing. France has granted a special perpetual concession to the land, free of any charge or tax. The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains the cemetery. Two Italian granite figures at the western end of the central mall represent the United States and France.
The last battle in the Campaign for Normandy was the Liberation of Paris. It started with an uprising by French Resistance against the German Paris garrison. On August 24, French Forces of the Interior received backup from the Free French Army of Liberation and the United States 4th Infantry Division. On August 29, a joint Franco-American victory military parade traveled through the streets of Paris.
The cooperation of French and Americans during the war inspired one of the best-known movies of all time. Casablanca was set in unoccupied French Morocco during WW II. The movie bore the name of the stopping off point on the way to Lisbon and then to America as people attempted to escape Nazi occupied Europe.
The main characters in the story are Rick Blaine, lIsa Lund and Victor Laszlo. Prior to the German occupation of Paris, Rick and lIsa fell in love. On the day the Germans marched into Paris, lIsa was to meet Rick at the train station but failed to show up. She had received word that her husband Victor Laszlo, a Czech resistance leader, had not died in the Nazi concentration camp but was alive and needed her.
Rick goes to Casablanca and sets up Rick’s Café Américain. Rick and Ilsa meet again as lIsa and Victor arrive in Casablanca, attempting to find passage to America. German Major Strasser comes to Casablanca to prevent Laszlo from leaving. While in Rick’s cafe, he leads his soldiers to sing the German national anthem. Victor Laszlo then orders Rick’s band to play La Marseillaise, the national anthem of France. When the bandleader looks to Rick, he nods his head in approval.
Rick helps Victor and lIsa escape to America by providing them with letters of transit to Lisbon. When Major Strasser tries to stop them, Rick shoots him. The movie ends with Rick and Captain Renault (the local police chief) making plans to join the Free French at Brazzaville, ending with the memorable line by Rick, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Friends and Brothers, Free Indeed
Our national mottos are Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, and In God We Trust. The origins of the French motto are not Christian, but the principles are. The God in whom we trust has provided a way for us to have liberty, equality and brotherhood. Through Christ, true freedom is possible. Through Christ, we experience a brotherhood that lasts forever.
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . .Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:32, 36).