Tags: paris | terror | jihad | unity | march

'Lafayette, We Are Here': French-American Unity on Display at DC March

Monday, 12 January 2015 06:23 AM Current | Bio | Archive

On the same day more than 1.5 million French marched in Paris to demonstrate unity following the terrorist attacks that struck their capital city last week, Americans on Sunday joined with French in a much smaller march in Washington, D.C.

However, the march of about 2,000 from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Law Enforcement Officers Monument at nearby Judiciary Square was nonetheless significant. As far as the marchers in the Franco-American crowd were concerned, their show of unity against radical jihadists ended any lingering animosity between their countries that began when France opposed the U.S. strike into Iraq in 2003.

"I think all of that disagreement is really behind the United States and France and for good," said Cody Feldman, a Frenchman who graduated from American University in Washington and now works in the Washington area. His friend, Helene Combes, also French and a senior at American majoring in international relations, agreed.

"Just look at the crowd gathering up [at the Newseum]," she told Newsmax just before the march began Sunday afternoon. "Americans were clearly moved by Charlie [last week’s assault by jihadists on the French satire publication Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead] and you can sense the unity between the French and Americans now."

"LAFAYETTE (AND CHARLIE), WE ARE HERE!" proclaimed a large sign carried by an American in the crowd, who shouted to French marchers: "We wouldn’t have a United States without the help from your country."

A French marcher carried a blown-up cartoon of Asterisk and Obelisk — the comic strip Gaul warriors who have been beloved fixtures in France since 1959 — doffing their helmets in mourning.

Catching the crowd’s attention was the woman who is perhaps the best known face of France in the nation’s capital: Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Accompanied by only one uniformed guard and an aide, Lagarde walked the entire distance in what the French call a "silent march," with neither music played nor slogans chanted.

"I think a lot of the tension between Paris and Washington was overdone by the press in both countries," Pierre Nedji, a Frenchman working in Washington, told Newsmax at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. "The Iraq invasion did create some problems, but, look, a lot of Americans told me they disagreed with the decision [of the Bush administration] to overthrow [Iraqi strongman] Saddam Hussein.

"Right now, I’m proud to be a Frenchman and proud to be living in the United States."

Another Frenchman working in the U.S., Fabrice Arcizet of Bethesda, Maryland, told us that "the most important thing is to see everyone, French and Americans, together."

A few in the crowd had their complaints. Anne Mahler, a Frenchwoman married to an American, said she was moved by the "sense of community and unity" in the Washington march but was bothered that neither President Barack Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden could join with the more than 15 world leaders at the massive march in Paris.

"If [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu can make it, with bodyguards all around him, and be right next to [Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman] Mahmoud Abbas, why couldn’t Biden?" (Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris on Sunday and earlier in the week, Secretary of State John Kerry held a press conference in which he delighted the French by speaking for several minutes in their language.)

But others disagreed.

Sophie Gryszko, another Frenchwoman who accompanied Mahler to the march, told Newsmax: "I’m not bothered by Mr. Obama or Mr. Biden not being there. Mr. Obama went to the French embassy to express his condolences and Mr. Kerry did a wonderful job speaking French. That shows real solidarity. That’s what’s important."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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On the same day as more than 1.5 million French marched in Paris to demonstrate unity following the terrorist attacks that struck their capital city last week, Americans on Sunday joined with French in a much smaller march in Washington, D.C.
paris, terror, jihad, unity, march
Monday, 12 January 2015 06:23 AM
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