This past May, Mr. Speaker, Nicolas Sarkozy became the 23rd President of France. His election has ushered in a new and welcomed era in positive relations between France and the United States.
The history of friendship between these two countries, the United States and France, runs deep and it runs wide. Since the American Revolution, we have shared a deep commitment to freedom and independence; both of our countries have. Perhaps one of the best early demonstrations of France's commitment to our shared heritage of freedom is the example of General Marquis de Lafayette--General Lafayette, a young Frenchman who believed so passionately in the cause of freedom and liberty for all individuals that he left his homeland of France and came to join the American colonies in their fight for independence against Great Britain.
It was General Lafayette who persuaded the French to help Americans in their fight for freedom and independence from Great Britain. He served courageously under the command of General George Washington. George Washington's and Lafayette's portraits both hang in this hall tonight.
General Lafayette is the only non-American portrait in the entire Capitol building, and is the only other portrait besides General Washington in this House Chamber. There is a reason for that; both of them, General Washington and his friend Lafayette, were committed to liberty for all.
The American people will always be grateful to the commitment of General Lafayette and the people of France throughout our pursuit for freedom and democracy through the American Revolution. And the American Revolution was successful because of their help.In the same way, Mr. Speaker, we are hopeful that the election of President Sarkozy will renew the ties of friendship that bind our two countries and our long heritage together.
On the eve of the election, President Sarkozy said that "American friends can rely on France's friendship. France will always be next to them when they need us." We are hopeful, Mr. Speaker, that in the midst of many international crises, most notably, the threat of nuclear Iran and the global war on terrorism, that France will remain an ally committed to world peace and democracy for all and continue to pursue freedom for all peoples throughout the world.
I am pleased to be the sponsor of legislation H. Res. 379, which honors President Sarkozy and his appearance before Congress. I look forward to his continued friendship and an alliance between not only him and the United States, but the people of France and the United States.
And that's just the way it is.