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Remembering The Message Of France’s Righteous


In a society that – despite its difficulties – is prosperous and stable, the idea of happiness too often seems reduced to the satisfaction of material needs. A nation is a community of women and men supporting one another, bound together by shared values and a common destiny. In President Chirac’s words, we are all guardians of a fragment of the national community, which itself exists only if each of us feels fully responsible for it.

At a time when individualism and the lures of antagonism are on the rise, what we must see in the mirror offered us by every human face is not his or her difference but that which is universal to us all. To those who ask what it means to be French, or what France’s universal values are, I say look no further than France’s Righteous, who offered the most magnificent response at the darkest moment of our history.

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The Righteous of France, the nearly 3,000 individuals who risked their lives to save Jews from mass deportation during the Nazi occupation, were honored by the French nation at a ceremony on January 18. The tribute at the Pantheon in central Paris was led by French President Jacques Chirac, who unveiled a plaque commemorating these heroes of the French Resistance.

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