|HOW DARE THE FRENCH FORGET
By STEVE DUNLEAVY February 10, 2003 --
COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France - They stand only 3 feet high, but they're towering mountains of sacrifice.
I'm standing in the American Cemetery. Gray clouds hang low as if in mourning for the nearly 10,000 young Americans buried beneath crosses and Stars of David that stretch as far as the eye can see.
The air is chill, but I feel an unnatural glow of rage - I want to kick the collective butts of France.
These kids died to save the French from a tyrant named Adolf Hitler.
And now, as more American kids are poised to fight and die to save the world from an equally vile tyrant, Saddam Hussein, where are the French?
Hiding. Chickening out. Proclaiming, Vive les wimps!
The French, amazingly, never learned the lesson of what happens to appeasers.
They may not remember - but Caroline Buck does.
"When I look at these graves, it makes me want to cry," Buck, who lives in San Antonio, told me as she dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief.
"My father joined the Merchant Marines during WWII at the age of 17. Those soldiers out there under that ground were just kids. They were here to save France, and if it wasn't for them, the French might have ended up speaking German," she said.
Well, what do you know. They're now speaking the same anti-war language as the Germans - in a European chorus of cowards.
Buck's husband, Ron, an engineer, remembered his father flying over France against the Germans in planes nicknamed "The Black Widows" because they flew at night.
"I think this whole anti-American thing is sad," he said. "I don't know whether it's television or an older generation dying out, but after our soldiers did so much for France, well, look at these graves. Surely they remember."
Sorry. They don't.
I read these names with tears in my eyes and fury in my heart:
"Walter F. Rober, Pvt., 358 Inf., 90 Div., New York, July 13, 1944; Angelo Cauca, Pvt., 8 Inf., 4 Div., New Jersey, June 21, 1944; John Hernandez, Pvt., 8 Inf., 4 Div., Nebraska, June 23, 1944."
These names mean nothing to the French, 91 percent of whom, according to a poll, are against President Bush's plans to make Saddam a dark mark in history.
But then again, the French are against everything, including that curious American habit of showering every day.
But wait a minute.
It seems our brave allies are now putting all their French toast in one basket.
They have a 12,000-man contingent training, they say. And it's equipped with one - count it - one amphibious-assault vessel.
Give me a break.
I know some veterans who would say that if the French are in training, they are training to throw up their arms in surrender.
B. Rice Aston, from Houston, the president-general of the Sons of the American Revolution, was visiting here with fellow members.
As he approached the monument in the cemetery, he said: "Remember what Henry Kissinger said. The French are prickly. If you're at the top of the ladder, they sometimes want to shake it for you to fall off."
You walk another hundred yards near hallowed turf: "George Uttering, Pvt., 12 Inf., 4 Div., New York, June 7, 1944; Ramond Carey, 2 Lt., 319, 82 Airborne, New York, July 4, 1944; Ercal W. Netzer, Pfc., 22 Inf., West Virginia, June 7, 1944."
As the sun tries to peek through those mourning clouds, I meet Jessica Silverman, a student from George Washington University, studying here in France. As a college student, she never has been gung-ho for any war.
But Jessica, of Maine, told me, "Nothing has happened to me, but we have been told something that is a little disturbing.
"We have been told that if we face any kind of a threat, we should say we're Canadians, not Americans."
Now isn't that just fine, Americans in France having to pretend they're not Americans.
If they had done that in 1944, the French would have replaced "La Marseillaise" with the Nazi anthem, "Deutchland Uber Alles."
It chills the bone when the French government and so many of its
citizens steadfastly try to undermine Bush, even sneer at him, when so
many of them were saved by the nation he leads - with the greatest band
of brothers on earth