TO THE FRENCH CANADIANS
Charles de Gaulle
THE SPEECHES OF GENERAL DE GAULLE pp. 16-17
I have no hesitation in speaking to you, for my subject is France, and I realize that no people on earth understand the concerns of France better than the French Canadians.
I do not propose to give you a list of our military, moral, and national mistakes. As a soldier, a Catholic, and a Frenchman, I recognize and acknowledge these errors. I would only ask you to remember that no nation has ever undergone, endured, and accepted sacrifices such as those undergone, endured, and accepted by us from 1914 to 1918. One and a half million of France's finest sons died on the battlefields. The Canadians who lie buried in the same soil bear witness to this.
But conquerors have arisen, men whose sorry genius relentlessly exploits other people's mistakes.
Taking advantage of our own errors, as well as those of our Allies, these conquerors defeated the French army, whereupon the rulers of the country, seized by panic, conspired to surrender our arms to the enemy, and, with them, our independence and even the right to think freely as Frenchmen.
So now France has first to be won back, after which she must be reconstructed. That is why the spirit of France is seeking and calling throughout the world those who know what she is, what she wants, and all that, century after century, she has been able to do for others.
French Canadians! The spirit of France is seeking and calling for your help.
She calls for your help because she knows you for what you are. She knows you are an important factor in the country, the people, and the State to which you belong. She knows what strength and hope are embodied in that country, that people and that rising State.
The spirit of France is seeking and calling for your help
because France knows the part you play and your position in the British Empire—to-day almost the sole champion of freedom.
The spirit of France is seeking and calling for your help because fate has ordained that Canada should form a link between the Old World and the New and, in the present world conflict, nobody with any common sense believes that freedom can triumph without the help of the American continent.
Finally, the spirit of France is seeking and calling for your help because your example holds out fresh hope for the future. The fact that, in your land, a branch of the old French stock has taken root and grown into a magnificent tree shows that, when the great victory is won, France, too, after untold suffering, will be able to give proof of her resolution and faith.
French Canadians, as a French soldier alone entrusted, for the moment, with the proud duty of speaking on behalf of France, I salute you with full confidence.