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August 19, 2009

You Could Have Heard a Pin Drop

At a time when our president and other politicians tend to apologize for our country`s prior actions, here`s a refresher on how some former patriots handled negative comments about our country...

JFK'S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO. DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded "does that include those who are buried here?

DeGaulle did not respond.

You could have heard a pin drop


When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush.

He answered by saying, 'Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.'

You could have heard a pin drop.


There was a conference in France where a number of international
engineers were taking part, including both French and Americans. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended to do, bomb them?'

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: 'Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such
ships; how many does France have?'

You could have heard a pin drop.


A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S. , English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?'

Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, 'Maybe it's because the Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.'

You could have heard a pin drop.



Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

"You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."

The American said, 'The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."

"Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France !"

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to."

You could have heard a pin drop.

Posted by Cassandra at August 19, 2009 07:29 AM

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Heh. Without commenting on the veracity of any of 'em (and I can vouch that two are definitely true), France *does*, in fact, have a nuke-powered aircraft carrier, the


Charles DeGaulle.

Posted by: BillT at August 19, 2009 08:45 AM

Sometime in the late 1950s, a British airliner landed at Frankfurt. Much to the irritation of the ground controller, the pilot asked for "progressive taxi" (turn-by-turn instructions)...

FRANKFURT GROUND: So, you have not flown to Frankfurt before?

BRITISH AIRLINER: Yeah, I was here in 1944, but I didn't land.

Posted by: david foster at August 19, 2009 09:29 AM

The times I have had the opportunity to visit Fronce, I have noticed the same attitude as noted above, with few exceptions. Those pleasant exceptions were mostly found in aged survivors of the Nazi occupation during WWII. How few of those folks still survive?

Have I ever mentioned that of all the people on this planet that I have had the fortune to meet and the places I've visited, I really, really do not care much for the Fronch or Fronce in general?

*turns towards Old Glory flappin' on the flag pole out front and wonders what genetic abnormality and/or conditioning causes the Fronch to not see what I see*

Posted by: bthun at August 19, 2009 10:10 AM

Brilliant. I don't care if none of them actually happened. Brilliant.

Posted by: Suburban Scarecrow at August 19, 2009 10:49 AM

Years ago, the NY Times, when it still had a semblance of sanity (God, that does age me!), there was a great article about how France had attached gigantic balloons around all of its borders so that it could separate itself from the earth and all the subspecies inhabiting the rest of the planet.

Posted by: RIslander at August 19, 2009 11:14 AM

I have a neighbor and very dear friend who happens to be a former US Army physician (and his wife is a former Army nurse). Ac ouple of years ago, my friend finally determined that his parents simply could not handle living by themselves in their home in New Jersey, and he moved them down to an assisted living retirement community close by to us in Virginia. I went up to Jersey with Philippe to help empty his parent's home of family keepsakes, etc. In the process I learned this story.

Philippe's parents were both born in France. Shortly before the outbreak of the war in 1939, his father, Monsieur G. father, ("M. G") then a universtity student, was pressed into service and was in pilot training when the Nazis invaded France. The French air force, however, was severely short of combat aircraft when war came, and so M.G. and his fellow trainees were given rifles and sent to infantry units.

When the defense of France finally collapsed in May 1940, M.G. escaped with the British from the beaches Dunkirk.

The British needed pilots, and M.G. wanted to fight, so they took him into the RAF, and hastily trained him. When he flew his first combat mission in late July 1940 during the Battle of Britain, he had all of 12 hours in the cockpit of a Spitfire.

M.G. had accumulated 8 confirmed air kills, and many many ground support sorties when he was shot down over France in 1944. He survived the crash landing, but broke both his legs in the process. A couple of farmers plucked him from the aircraft before the Germans arrived at the crash site and for the next four months he was hidden and cared for by the local inhabitants. During this time, he was moved constantly. As soon as the Germans had search one barn or cellar and moved on to the next, the locals would pick up his stretcher and take him to the last placed searched. At one such place, the cellar of the local wine merchant, he met a young girl, the daughter of the merchant, and he fell in love.

When the village was liberated by the Allies, M.G. was sent to Paris to recuperate. (Believe it or not, he was nearly court martialled by the French Army for desertion, having traded in his French uniform for that of the RAF...but someone applied an enormous clue bat, and the matter was dropped.) M.G.'s flying days were over, so he was put to work training Free French pilots right up until the end of the war. Upon release from service, M.G. hitched-hiked he way back to Alsace-Loraine, found the merchant's daughter, nad married her on the spot.

They came to the United States in 1950, so that M.G. could complete his medical degree. They decided to stay when Philippe was born.

As many times I have have met M.G. over the years, he never uttered a single word about his service in the war. It wasn't until I was helping them pack up their belongsings that I came across his RAF cap and uniform - festooned with ribbons and medals, that i coaxed he and Mme. G. (with the help of a bottle of wine) to tell their story. Philippe is now in the process - so long as I keep prodding him - of compliling M.G.'s story for his own children and their children to treasure.

So, my friends, thanks to Monsieur G.
Vive la France.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 19, 2009 11:31 AM

De Gaulle - ptui.

Le Poilu... Bon!

Posted by: NRA-ILA card carrying Neanderthal at August 19, 2009 11:38 AM

Hear Hear!

And for the French-bashers (in comments), yes there are jerks everywhere, for every story of supercilious frogs there are plenty of stories of boorish american tourists . . . I have traveled to France and found 99% of the people there were extremely pleasant, kind, and went out of their way to help a poor tourist, alone, who spoke only snippets from the phrase book. But that was just my personal experience.

The French government with the crap they pull though? can stuff it.

Posted by: Lynn at August 19, 2009 12:32 PM

"that was just my personal experience. "
While my experiences may be unusual and possibly skewed due to my being in uniform when I visited Fronce, it is my opinion, based on my personal experiences. Nothing more, nothing less.

And even though I have no doubt that there are many genial and absolutely wonderful folk in that country, I'm going to stick with my opinion, thank you.

Posted by: bthun at August 19, 2009 01:15 PM

Don't mistake a *Parisian* attitude for a *French* attitude. And even Parisians got positively chummy when KtLW and I indicated that we thought they'd done the right thing by voting down the EU Constitution in 2005...

Posted by: BillT at August 19, 2009 01:17 PM

Oh, I'll back Bill up on that. Parisians think the French are declasse'. I lived in a small hotel two blocks down the Rue de la Grande Armee from the Place d'Etoile for six months back when Dad was assigned to EUCOM HQs at Camp Des Loges. Parisians have a sense of self and place that Manhattanites display but a pale shadow thereof.

I've never had a problem with the French on an indivdual basis.

But then, I never dealt with their politicians, either. But I do remember the turmoil as we moved EUCOM from Paris to Stuttgart.

Posted by: NRA-ILA card carrying Neanderthal at August 20, 2009 03:53 PM