125th Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty
New York, September 22, 2011.
- President Sarkozy and Mayor Bloomberg celebrate 125 years of friendship between France and New York City (photo Flickr nyc.gov - Spencer T Tucker)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honored to be invited here to celebrate this 125th anniversary. [...]
Between France and the United States there are bloodlines, and there is the love of freedom. During your Revolutionary War, the French came, French who crossed the Atlantic, French who believed in the American Revolution. At that time, we numbered 18 million citizens to your 2 million. But they crossed the Atlantic and said, "Over there, in that immense territory that will become the United States of America, those men and women will build a free country." And little by little, you Americans—who are perhaps not fully aware—became for the whole world the symbol of freedom, and the foremost nation in the world. And all over the world, everyone knows what this statue represents: a free country where the people are free and where those who come, are welcomed.
And when, ten years ago, the horrific attacks that left so many dead in this city, if the barbarians and the criminals who attacked chose this place, it is precisely because New York is the symbol of freedom. There is a relationship between this statue and what occurred here September 11, 2001. [...]
I would like to say that for the French people, the victims are also our victims. What happened to you could have happened to us. Because we share the same idea of freedom. And it is for that very reason that we must celebrate such an anniversary, so that the youth know what has happened, so that no one forgets what happened and so that for you, the great people of America, you continue to embody this idea of freedom. [...]
You know that the French and the Americans have engaged in a number of different conflicts together: in Afghanistan, in Libya. But, great people of America, when a young American dies, I want you to know that, for each French person, this reminds them of all the young Americans that lay in our cemeteries. When one of yours is killed, it echoes within our common history: these youths, who would become your grand-parents, that you sent, who died, who are in our cemeteries and who drew this blood oath between France and the United States of America. [...]
My dear friends,
Believe one thing: the French people will never forget what the great people of America did for her. Between France and the United States, it is more than friendship—we share our dead in common. And by our dead, we are obliged—obliged to remain friends for centuries to come.