Sunday, March 25, 2007

Liberating the City of Light

Whenever someone swears that all of Europe, especially the French, hate Americans, first off, I don't believe them. Surely other countries are smart enough to realize that we are not all our leaders -- we don't blame them all for their various nutty bosses.

And second, I want to make them read this: Ernie Pyle's column on the liberation of Paris during World War II. How can we hate each other when a mere 60 years we were sacrificing it all for each other?

Damn, that man could write. He was later killed, of course, by Japanese machine-gun fire on Okinawa, the same island where my dad fought during the war. So he saw Paris freed, but he never saw the peace he dreamed of, all so that those of us who weren't there (and those of us who came along decades later) could understand the sacrifice of those who were.

Excerpt: "I had thought that for me there could never again be any elation in war. But I had reckoned without the liberation of Paris. ... Once when the jeep was simply swamped in human traffic and had to stop, we were swarmed over and hugged and kissed and torn at. Everybody, even beautiful girls, insisted on kissing you on both cheeks. Somehow I got started kissing babies that were held up by their parents, and for a while I looked like a baby-kissing politician going down the street. The fact that I hadn't shaved for days, and was gray-bearded as well as bald-headed, made no difference. Once when we came to a stop, some Frenchman told us there were still snipers shooting, so we put our steel helmets back on."

2 comments:

Talia said...

My sister was recently on a trip to England and she was rather disturbed to find a series of posters throughout the city about how nothing good ever came from America (here's a photo she took of one: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4341/3375/1600/S4010935.0.jpg )

I think the truoble is Europeans sort of think "Well, they all voted for that Bush guy... twice." hence the dislike for the American people and not just the president.

Leeenda said...

heh sorry it's true...

I'm an American living in Ireland for the past 3 years, and I'm marrying an Irishman this December... Anti-Americanism in Europe is rampant.. we're seen as being overall stupid, fat, and have someone comparable to Hitler as our president. (I've had this analogy given to me 2-3 times)...

Most can separate us as an entity from Bush, but the stereotype of "fat and stupid" is omnipresent. Of course they're hypocritical, because that doesn't stop them from watching every US sitcom ever made, and 98% of the movies in theaters here are made by Hollywood...

It doesn't help either that while Europe grows up on images of America (The Simpsons, Friends, westerns, Sex and the City, Dallas, you name it), America gets barely anything about Europe. So while any Irishman can describe to you what an american high school prom is like, I doubt very few Americans could describe an Irish ceili. And so Americans are seen as "dumb" when they go sightseeing in Europe, and aren't as knowledgeable about the culture as Europeans are when they go to NYC.