Naysayers shout that the United States is "the big bad wolf" around the world. Doomsday carpers rail that the nation's leadership and political image is at an all-time low. If we are to believe all these negative sentiments, for Thanksgiving, we should retreat into caves and feast on humble pie.
On Nov. 7, 2007, French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid the United States a visit.
President Sarkozy, a conservative, was elected last summer amid great turmoil in his country. The GDP (gross domestic product) of his nation was at an all-time low. The jobless numbers were at an all-time high, and the country is dealing with rising Islamic Fascism due to the number of Muslims immigrating to France. He won, vowing to create change and bring stability to his government.
That day, he spoke before a joint session of Congress - a rare honor for a head of state. His speech was not carried on the national networks or cable television, but quietly on C-SPAN. No matter, because his eloquent and elegant words were heard near and far. He threw open the "French doors" to the patio of the free world. He elicited a breath of fresh air. No Bush-bashing, haranguing or further insults to our nation, just an unabashed expression of admiration for the United States.
As he stood in the well of Congress, he recalled the blood and sacrifice shed on French soil by our American soldiers during World Wars I and II and alluded to the ongoing battle against terror:
"Every time, whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American Army did for France. I think of them and I am sad, as one is saddened to lose a member of one's family. If the Americans had not come to our aid in World War II, we would be slaves today in another culture. We thank you."
He thanked us for rebuilding Europe with the Marshall Plan and "tearing down the Berlin Wall," ending the Cold War.
He spoke of the immigrants coming, too:
"The millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who - with their hands, their intelligence and their heart built the greatest nation in the world: America did not say, "Come and everything will be given to you." She said: "Come and the only limits to what you'll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent."
He continued, "What made America great was her ability to transform her own dream into hope for all mankind."
On this eve of Thanksgiving, President Sarkozy brought to us a greeting that we are not the "Big Bad Wolf," but we are seen around the world by others as the leader in the free world. There is a partnership out there with the European Union, too long in waiting. The world is a dangerous place, and going forward, as partners and allies, honoring our differences and disagreements, we will prevail.
I think, in honor of President Sarkozy, I will offer real French fries at the Thanksgiving table along with a lovely bottle of French Bordeaux. Viva La France, and Happy Thanksgiving.
Carol O'Hare is a Steamboat Springs resident and a graduate of Vanderbilt University. She is active in various community efforts. She is a "recovering sports journalist," having written for such publications as Tennis Magazine, Sports Illustrated and various news organizations. She is an avid cyclist, tennis player, skier and a member of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado.