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Remarks at a Welcoming Ceremony for President Emmanuel Macron of France

April 24, 2018

President Trump. Thank you very much. President Macron, Mrs. Macron, members of the French delegation, and distinguished guests: Welcome to the White House. Mr. President, Melania and I were honored to visit your majestic country last summer. Now we are thrilled to host you and Brigitte here in America. The wonderful friendship we have developed over the last year is a testament to the enduring friendship that binds our two nations. It is truly fitting that we are holding our first official state visit with the leader of America's oldest ally, the proud nation of France.

This morning we all send our prayers to the Bush family as we wish former President George H.W. Bush a very speedy recovery. I also want to express our deepest sympathies to the Canadian people following the horrendous tragedy in Toronto that claimed so many innocent lives. Our hearts are with the grieving families in Canada.

Your visit, Mr. President, comes at a critical time for our alliance. Along with our British friends, the United States and France recently took decisive action in response to the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons. I want to personally thank President Macron, the French military, and the French people, for their steadfast partnership. They were absolutely incredible. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you.

The long friendship between the United States and France began 241 years ago this month, when a 19-year-old Frenchman named Lafayette set sail to join America's fight for independence. He quickly won the trust of George Washington, fought bravely in the battle, and helped secure the aid of France for the American cause. Decades later, President Andrew Jackson wrote that the memory of Lafayette "will be second only to that of Washington in the hearts of the American people."

The beautiful friendship between the United States and France, forged in revolution, has changed the course of history. Exactly 100 years ago this spring, Americans fought side by side with the gallant French in World War I. A generation later, in the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of young Americans and Free French sacrificed together to save civilization in its hour of greatest need. Sixty thousand American servicemembers rest for eternity beneath the peaceful fields and hills of the French countryside. And in the soil of Virginia and Georgia, French patriots whose names are known only to God lie in unmarked graves.

Today we meet to affirm this friendship that has flourished as an example to the world for more than two centuries. Our two great republics are linked together by the timeless bonds of history, culture, and destiny. We are people who cherish our values, protect our civilization, and recognize the image of God in every human soul. This legacy has made us who we are and given us what we hold dear: the blessings of faith and freedom, the marvels of art and science, the love of family and community, and the defense of home and country.

This righteous calling, this sacred heritage, is what moved a young Frenchman to risk death for American liberty at Yorktown. It is what spurred the Americans to storm the cliffs of Omaha Beach. It is what drove the farmers of Massachusetts to stand at Concord Bridge, and the citizens of Paris to man the barricades.

And just weeks ago, we added a new name to this chronicle of our great heroes: a brave French policeman named Arnaud Beltrame. Colonel Beltrame stared down evil and did not flinch. He laid down his life for his neighbors, for his country, and for civilization itself—a great man. And through that immortal deed, a son of France reminded the world of the true measure of our strength.

President Macron, people of France, people of America: Now is the time for strength. So let us be strong. Let us be united. Let us honor our past and face our future with confidence and with pride. And let the United States and France stand forever in solidarity for the noble cause of liberty and peace.

Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. President.

President Macron. Mr. President, dear Donald Trump, dear Melania, dear Brigitte, mesdames et messieurs, dear distinguished guests: Thank you for your warm welcome and for honoring France and the Franco-American friendship with this state visit, the first of your Presidency, which bears witness to the strength of the centenary-old bonds that unites our two countries.

But first of all, please allow me to join your condolences addressed to—by the French people to the Canadian people and to express our deepest sympathy for—to President Bush and his family. It is in these sad moments as well and in these terrible circumstances and against these attacks that we stand together.

Two centuries ago, it was Marquis de Lafayette who was welcomed here, back to the United States, 30 years after the War of Independence. At the time, he spent almost 14 months amongst you. Unfortunately, my stay will be shorter, but it is of special importance to me and to all my fellow citizens who, for a long time, have had powerful and sincere feelings for your people, Mr. President.

"In America, I saw more than America," wrote Tocqueville. Indeed, in it, he acknowledged the shape of democracy itself, an ideal meant to guide our statesmen, to inspire the functioning of our institutions, and to acknowledge the place of free individuals.

Dear Mr. President, America represents endless possibilities for my country. It brings about hopes that overcome all determinisms and prescribed destinies. It is said that France has renewed with the optimism it sometimes envied the United States. France shares with your country an ideal of freedom and peace.

Over the last centuries, we have weaved our histories through our common struggles, where each time, together, we have fought the Western world and aspired to universality. Through our revolutions, from the very beginning, yesterday evening, we were at Mount Vernon at the residency of the first President of the United States, George Washington, on whose tomb I wished to pay tribute together with you. Inside the mansion we saw the key to the Bastille Prison, which was sent to him by Lafayette as a symbol of this unbreakable bond.

This year then—through our struggles for freedom, this year, as we commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I, I wish to offer you a tree from Bois Belleau, an oak. From these forests, north of my country where, in 1918, U.S. soldiers, and marines in particular, displayed courage and devotion. I am pleased that this tree that grew close to the famous "Bull Dog" fountain in the soil, where your soldiers shed their blood to defend France, can now take root here at the White House in front of us as a symbol of the sacrifice and the common battles that France and the United States have led together.

These values, inherited and shared by our two countries, are the foundation on which we shall continue to build and write together, side by side, the chapters of our modern history, forge the Western world, and aspire to universality. Such remains our challenge today.

It is together that the United States and France will defeat terrorism. France and America are both confronted to it in various forms on our respective soils in the Levant or in Africa. It is together that we will counter the proliferation of arms of mass destruction, be it in North Korea or in Iran. It is together that we shall build a new form of prosperity for our peoples, which means innovation, free and fair trade, and the protection of our middle classes.

It is together that we will be able to act effectively for our planet. I'm not just referring to climate, but also to the oceans, to biodiversity, and to all forms of pollution. On this issue, we do not always agree as to the solutions, but in the end, such is the case in any family and in any friendship. And it also where the fate of all children is at stake.

It is together that we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world. It is together that we will build a new strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds. For our culture, our identity has always been to work for all countries while aspiring to universality.

Our friendship has constantly grown more solid, dipping in the ink of the challenges we have yet to overcome. That is where we stand today. History is calling us. It is urging our peoples to find the fortitude that has guided us in the most difficult of times. France and, with it, Europe and the United States, have an appointment with history. We have but one duty, Mr. President, dear friend: to be at that appointment.

So thank you, Mr. President, and thanks to the First Lady for your invitation and for giving us this opportunity to work together towards that goal, and for giving us an opportunity to express, once again, our friendship.

Long live the United States. Love live France. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:23 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, where President Macron was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. President Macron spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks at a Welcoming Ceremony for President Emmanuel Macron of France Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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