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73rd anniversary of General de Gaulle’s address to the French people

Publié le June 20, 2013
Speech by Ambassador François Delattre
Embassy of France, June 18, 2013

General Wolters, General Clark, Monsieur Ruiz-Ramon,

French veterans,

Dear Mr. Small and Mr. Perry and members of the Normandy Institute,

Dear American, British and French friends,

Distinguished guests,

C’est un honneur pour moi de vous réunir aujourd’hui à l’Ambassade de France pour la commémoration du 73ème anniversaire de l’Appel du Général de Gaulle du 18 Juin 1940.

It is a great honor for me to welcome you today to the French Embassy for the 73rd Commemoration of General de Gaulle’s address to the French nation on June 18, 1940.

Je tiens à cette occasion à rendre hommage en particulier aux anciens combattants français ici présents dont certains ont participé aux opérations de la deuxième guerre mondiale et qui, par leur courage exemplaire et leur détermination, ont poursuivi le combat jusqu’à la libération totale de notre pays. Tous ces hommes et ces femmes ont défendu avec bravoure notre patrie. Ils font honneur à notre pays. Nous leur devons tout, et d’abord d’être ce que nous sommes aujourd’hui.

I would also like to thank our American friends and their families who have kindly joined us this morning and, in particular, General Tod Wolters, General Mark Clark and Mr. Frederic Ruiz-Ramon, who, in a few minutes will receive among France’s highest distinctions. Their presence here is testimony to the long-lasting friendship between France and the United States. Today we remember that the Franco-American friendship is bound in blood and that from Yorktown to the beaches of Normandy, our two countries owe each other their very existence as free Nations.

En juin 1940, après des journées de féroces combats durant lesquels près de 120 000 combattants français perdirent leur vie en moins d’un mois, le nouveau gouvernement français annonça son intention de signer un armistice avec l’ennemi. Le Général de Gaulle décida alors de se rendre à Londres pour appeler à la résistance et continuer le combat.

In June 1940, after days of fierce combat, which claimed the lives of some 120,000 French servicemen in less than a month, the newly installed French Government announced its intention to sign an armistice with the enemy. General de Gaulle decided then to fly to London to call on the French people to resist and to carry on the fight.

C’est le 17 juin 1940 que le Général de Gaulle s’envola de Bordeaux pour la capitale britannique où, le jour même, il rencontra Churchill qui accepta le principe de mettre la BBC à sa disposition.

En fin de journée, la nouvelle parvint à Londres que le gouvernement français venait d’annoncer qu’il fallait cesser le combat. Le Général décida alors de lancer son appel dès le lendemain.

Dans la matinée du 18 juin, il rédigea « un message aux Français » qu’il montra à Churchill. Il se rendit à la BBC et prononça, à 18 heures, son célèbre appel à l’espoir et au courage. Entendu seulement par une minorité de Français, ce discours du 18 juin n’a pas été enregistré, mais il résonna longtemps dans la France résistante.

Dans les jours qui suivirent, le Général de Gaulle lança d’autres appels à la résistance, les 19 et 22 notamment, en reprenant largement les thèmes de celui du 18 juin.

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Nous allons entendre maintenant l’appel du 18 juin.

We will now listen to the June 18th address to the French people by General de Gaulle.

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General Tod Wolters

Your stellar military career spans over 30 years. You are a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Class of 1982. You subsequently held command posts with several fighter squadrons and fighter wings.

You participated in the major military operations of the past twenty years including “Desert Storm,” “Southern Watch,” “Iraqi Freedom” and “Enduring Freedom.”

General Tod Wolters

As a command pilot, you have logged close to 5,000 flight hours in various military aircraft.

You also served in staff positions at major command posts including the U.S. Pacific Command, the Headquarters of the United States Air Force, the U.S. Central Command and the Air Force Space Command.

In May 2011, you were deployed to Afghanistan as Commander, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force, and Deputy Commander Air to the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force.

In that position, you were in command of all Coalition air assets deployed in the Afghan theater, consisting of over 8,500 Airmen engaged in combat. You were also responsible for the planning and conduct of all air operations.

In such a demanding operational environment, you were able to create a powerful momentum to make air support, under relentless time constraints, a decisive element in preserving the human capital of the coalition, while inflicting heavy losses on the insurgents.

Moreover, by mastering the use of the Air Force more efficiently, you were instrumental in substantially reducing collateral damage.

Your action was also pivotal in integrating the French air assets as efficiently as possible, by guaranteeing optimal parking conditions and by using the new capabilities of the French aircraft, especially the Rafale.

Your sustained action enabled all the coalition’s detachments to benefit from high-quality air support.

Indeed, the French troops of the Lafayette Task Force, a brigade size unit, were among the greatest beneficiaries during the campaign of summer 2011, as well as during the more targeted operations conducted by Task Force 32.

As you know, the French Forces were the first to answer the call to duty after the 9/11 attacks and to join the Coalition under American Command.

General Wolters, as a combat leader in Afghanistan, you held the French Armed Forces in high esteem and you never ceased to use their assets and skills efficiently.

Thanks to your unique dedication, knowledge and open-mindedness, the deployment of the U.S. and French Forces, side by side, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, has truly strengthened and reaffirmed the special and longstanding bonds of friendship and brotherhood-in-arms that have existed between the American and French military since your Revolutionary War.

Indeed, during that deployment, you developed excellent professional and personal relations with French General Olivier de Bavinchove, the ISAF Chief of Staff, and the French Senior National Representative in Afghanistan who has repeatedly emphasized the very high esteem for and total trust he had in General Wolters while assigned to the ISAF staff.

In recognition of your unfailing commitment to helping move forward the defense relationship between our two nations, the President of the French Republic has awarded you the Legion of Honor at the rank of Chevalier.

General Tod Wolters, au nom du président de la république, nous vous remettons les insignes de chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

General Mark Clark

You received your commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in June 1981 upon completion of Officer Candidate School and were designated a Naval Aviator in May 1983. Subsequently, you were assigned to Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina.

General Mark Clark

Your operational tours have included numerous assignments with several Marine Helicopter Squadrons from 1983 to 2001 including as Commanding Officer of the U.S. Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron nicknamed “The Iron Horses” from 1999-2001, and Commanding Officer of the U.S. Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Training Squadron from 2006 to 2007.

These assignments have involved deployments to the Mediterranean, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Haiti, Bosnia and Afghanistan

However, it is during your assignment at the Pentagon as Director of the Strategy and Plans Division at the United States Marine Corps Headquarters, from 2007 to 2009, that the French Armed Forces were able to appreciate the most your spirit of cooperation, especially in the area of amphibious forces.

Over the course of these two years, you demonstrated a strong commitment to furthering bilateral cooperation between the French and American Amphibious Forces. While doing so, you always searched for and found durable and concrete solutions to improving interoperability between those forces.

In recognition of your sustained efforts to advance bilateral cooperation between the French Army and the United States Marine Corps, the President of the French Republic has awarded you the medal of the National Order of Merit with the rank of Officer.

General Mark Clark, au nom du président de la république, nous vous remettons les insignes d’officier de l’Ordre national du Mérite.

Dr. Frédéric Ruiz-Ramon

You are a graduate of the University of Chicago, Harvard University and the U.S. National War College. You also earned degrees from the Paris Institute of Political Studies and the French Center for Advanced Armament Studies.

You started your career in the U.S. Department of Defense as the Head of the Latin America Desk in charge of cooperation policy.

Dr. Frédéric Ruiz-Ramon

In 1997, you joined the Center for Naval Analyses as Project Director and as such, you conducted several studies on defense cooperation for the DOD on issues such as coalition building and interoperability.

In 2004, you went back to the Department of Defense as Director of the U.S. Army International Center for Technology, in charge of Central America.

Your career illustrates your commitment to the development of international relations, especially with Latin America and France. Not only do you have a deep knowledge of France’s political history, the topic of your doctoral dissertation at Harvard University, but you also have a personal attachment to France due to your French extraction on your mother’s side. This dual culture and your fluency in the French language have been major assets in furthering French-American relations.

From 2007 to 2011, you served as Chief of International Programs for the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense. In that position, you were responsible for all international operations of the U.S. Department of Defense’s chemical, biological defense material development and acquisition.

You were instrumental, to say the least, in bringing French-U.S. cooperation in Bio-Chemical Defense to a new level. Your actions were decisive in raising U.S. awareness of DGA’s and French industry’s excellence in that strategic domain.

At the end of 2010, you took part in French-American interagency works aimed at developing a rapprochement between the two Departments of Defense in the biological defense domain.

In recognition of your sustained dedication to furthering cooperation between the United States and France, the President of the French Republic has awarded you the French National Order of Merit with the rank of Officer.

Dr. Frédéric Ruiz-Ramon, au nom du président de la république, nous vous remettons les insignes d’officier de l’Ordre national du Mérite.

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- See photos of the event on the Embassy’s Flickr.

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