NEW YORK, July 14, 2013 — “Le quatorze juillet” (the 14th of July) in France marks Bastille Day, France’s Independence Day.
The holiday that commemorates freedom and equality is celebrated beyond its national borders. On the other side of the Atlantic, over 50 U.S. cities join the French as they remember the movement that led to the birth its nation in 1789. It can also be a time to focus on the friendship between France and America, two great nations that share common values.
The creation of the European Union to counter U.S. power, the French lack of support for the 2003 Iraq War and more recently, allegations that the U.S. has spied on France are times where America and France have been at odds. Although there are challenges in the relationship, America and France are overall supportive allies.
Many Americans party like the French on le quatorze juillet. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New Orleans are a few of the many American cities known for their Bastille Day festivals- filled with French food, wine and music. Milwaukee triumphs as the host of the nation’s largest Bastille Day event, a four-day celebration attracting 250,000 attendees.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday sent “warm wishes to the people of France on the occasion of Bastille Day.” He also highlighted the shared values of advancing peace and democracy. These values have led the U.S. and France to help conflict nations such as Mali and Syria.
The world powers have a long history of assistance and collaboration.
France’s military power supported America’s independence in the Revolutionary War, and the U.S. returned the favor in War World II when American forces helped to free France from Nazi Germany occupation.
America and France are among the founders of international organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, and the World Trade Organization. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, known today as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was drafted by former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt and University of Paris professor and Nobel Prize winner, Réne Cassin.
With one of the world’s largest economic relationships, the U.S. and France share an interest in each other’s prosperity. In 2011 America was France’s top destination for foreign direct investment at $163 billion, which accounts for 7.2 percent of the U.S. GPD. France’s top trading partner outside the EU is the U.S. while France ranks as America’s third largest trading partner in Europe.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France in 1886, exemplifies the cultural bond of U.S.-France relations. The figure of the women holding a torch and legal tablet standing as a beacon in the New York Harbor is America’s icon of freedom.
French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote the one of the first comprehensive studies of the U.S., “Democracy in America” published in 1835. Tocqueville decided to examine the American government out of frustration with the challenges that France faced with setting up its democracy.
Today Tocqueville would be proud that France has overcome its challenges and has become an example of a thriving democracy.
Considering the historical friendship, Americans can also share in France’s achievement in living out its national motto of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”.
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