Yet with impeccable timing, the CSA poling company has released the results of a survey which found that 50% of the French public feel that France has no moral debt to the United States. This opinion is shared by 63% of those aged 18 to 24 years, 58% of those 25 to 34, 54% of those 35 to 49, 48% of those 50 to 64 and even 32% of those 65 and older. Among the professions, farmers thought this in the greatest majority (62%) while retirees and the self-employed were the least likely to share this view (39%). The study also found that 82% of the French felt that France was sufficiently grateful to the US and that as little as 3% admire the US.
Worse yet, the Figaro reports in a survey it commissioned which finds that 82% of French feel that Germany is France's strongest ally while only 55% feel that the US is a trustworthy ally. Thirty-seven percent (and 61% of National Front, i.e. fascist, voters) now feel that Iraq is the country that threatens them most (a head of Iran and North Korea.)
Strangely, fifty-seven percent of French people still feel that the D-Day landings were the event that has had the most profound effect on the present day, reports the AP, citing another CSA opinion poll. Seventy-two percent of French feel that the landings signify the Liberation of France.
Pro-American feeling often runs highest in the regions that saw the deadliest fighting and heaviest American sacrifices but in Caen, six local elected officials (Greens, Communists and members of the Radical Left Party — there are 47 seats on the regional council all together), will be leaving their places empty at the largest event of ceremonies at Arromanches to protest the presence of presidents Bush and Putin, they say. Regional Council vice-president Yannick Soubien, a Green, said, "The treatment of Iraqi prisoners by the Americans and the genocide committed by the Russians in Chechnya run counter to the values that unite us to-day to celebrate the victory against Nazism. We'll be at other ceremonies but not at those where Messrs. Bush and Putin will be." Alain Touret, another Regional Council vice-president, of the Radical Left Pary says, "It's no small thing to go against the feeling of unanimity brought on by the commemoration but, at any rate, perhaps we'll honor in a better way the sacrifice of all those young allies who shed their blood on our soil."
Le Monde's Benoît Hopquin has filed another historical report detailing the tribulations of decennial June 6 commemorations through the ages. "In the speeches, the memories and the behavior of those present, each commemoration has become a sort of snap shot of the mood on either side of the Atlantic," he writes.
"What remains of that dawn on June 6 1944 when everything seemed possible?" wrote Le Monde on that anniversary in 1954.In 1964, "the D-Day veterans returned to a France that was at peace once again and that was, frankly, ungrateful," writes Hopquin. President de Gaulle declined even to come to the ceremonies. General Omar Bradley and Deputy Defense Secretary Cyrus Vance were accompanied only by two cabinet minsiters (Veterans Affairs and Cooperation). In 1974, "though a reenactment with 2,000 participants was staged before a minister in fatigues, it all appeared a formality; so much so that a thousand French fighters and resisters lit a memorial flame in Washington rather than in Sainte-Mère-Eglise."
At that moment, France was beset with neurasthenia. The military defeat at Diên Biên Phú in Indochina a month earlier had profoundly shocked the country. Dreams of grandeur regained are wiped away and the "singing to-morrows" grow husky-voiced in the pettiness of the Fourth Republic.