Happy Bastille Day everyone! Better known to our French readers as La Fête Nationale, today marks the 221st anniversary of the birth of the modern French nation.
So this one goes out to France and Francophones across the globe.
All of you humming Les Miserables to yourselves right now, you’ve got the right idea, but the wrong revolution.
July 14, 1789, was just a little bit more recent than the uprising which inspired those soaring melodies.
The storming of the Bastille, which was once a prison, was a symbolic (only 7 prisoners at the time) and bloody (around 100 deaths) gesture that launched the French Revolution.
Here in the U.S. I know it’s easy to feel removed from this holiday. Europe is awfully far away.
But fear not, I am here to tell you that the U.S. has a legitimate connection to Bastille Day.
Can you imagine an international holiday that the U.S. could not somehow take partial credit for? The horror!?!
Fortunately history is here to save us from that nightmare. The U.S. still a very young nation at the time did in fact play a role in the French Revolution.
Yes, long before we became the ill-advised “Ambassadors of Democracy” that we are today, we inspired the French Revolution.
Don’t get too cocky, much of this inspiration came from those French soldiers who aided us with our own revolution just a few years earlier.
I’m thinking Louis XVI may have regretted that decision a few years later.
So don’t feel alienated U.S. readers. You too can take pride in this holiday.
It’s a glowing testament to the power of democracy…
it may be the wrong revolution…but it’s Les Mis: