Charles De Gaulle

Thursday, March 23, 1967

  • United States officials announced plans yesterday to move B-52 bombers from Guam to Thailand starting in four to eight weeks. The principal objective is faster response to bombing requests from military commanders in South Vietnam.
  • In Saigon it was reported that nearly 900 enemy soldiers died in the fighting that raged throughout South Vietnam on Tuesday. At the same time, at least 60 American soldiers were killed and more than 250 were wounded. The most significant action took place in the Jungles 70 miles northwest of Saigon, where troops of the Fourth Infantry Division turned back an attack by a Viet Cong regiment 
  • President de Gaulle pledged that France would continue her mission In French Somaliland despite the bloody incidents that followed Sunday’s referendum. The vote, he said, showed that a majority of the population there wanted to remain under the protection of France.
  • The chairman of the Presidential Commission on the Draft said he believed virtually all student deferments were basically unfair and should be abolished. Burke Marshall, the chairman, who is the former civil rights chief of the Justice Department said in Congressional testimony that anyone with sufficient intelligence and means “can beat the draft” as it currently functions.
  • Air pollution from sulphur oxides often exceeds safe levels in virtually all major American cities and many smaller ones, a Government report declared. The report of more than 260 pages was the first nationwide treatment of the subject by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

On this day in history, July 24, 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle addressed a large crowd in front of Montreal’s City Hall. 

In his speech, he affirmed France and Quebec’s close relationship and ended his speech with, “Vive Montréal; Vive le Québec ! Vive le Québec libre !

This was (correctly) taken by supporters of Quebec independence as support for their movement. Then Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson replied with “Canadians do not need to be liberated.” 

The speech was a major turning point in the history of the Quebec independence and would affect relations between Quebec and the rest of Canada for generations. 

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November 22nd 1890: Charles de Gaulle born

On this day in 1890, French military and political leader Charles de Gaulle was born in Lille. De Gaulle was raised in Paris, and in 1909 enrolled in the prestigious Saint-Cyr military academy. In his first deployment, de Gaulle was commanded by Colonel Philippe Pétain, who would later became famous for his leadership of the collaborationist Vichy regime. De Gaulle served with distinction during the First World War, and was captured during the Battle of Verdun in 1916. After the war, de Gaulle advanced through the ranks to serve on France’s Supreme War Council, and wrote widely about what he perceived to be France’s military weaknesses, largely due to an overreliance on the Maginot Line. After the outbreak of the Second World War, de Gaulle continued to advance professionally, becoming brigadier general and undersecretary for defense and war. However, after France’s invasion by the Nazis in 1940 and the subseqeunt surrender and collaboration of Petain’s regime, de Gaulle fled to England rather than accept France’s capitulation. With support from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, de Gaulle led the Free French movement and a government in exile, urging his countrymen to resist the Nazis and organising colonial soldiers to continue the fight. After liberation in 1944, the popular de Gaulle - who received a hero’s welcome in liberated Paris - became president of the French provisional government. At the war’s close, de Gaulle successfully secured his nation an occupation zone in the defeated Germany and a seat on the United Nation’s Security Council. De Gaulle soon resigned the presidency, however, after his desires for a strong executive were rejected, and retired from politics in 1953. However, as the government crumbled, the famed leader stepped in and became president of the Fifth Republic government in 1959. A dedicated nationalist, President de Gaulle pushed for French independence from the two Cold War superpowers, even withdrawing from NATO in 1966, and asserted French military strength through a nuclear weapons programme. Controversially, he also supported Algerian independence following a series of colonial uprisings. De Gaulle retired in 1969, amid rising protests and calls for reform, and died in November 1970. Charles de Gaulle was mourned as a national hero who, even in the dark days of the Second World War, dedicated himself to the freedom and independence of France.

“Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the help of the French armies, with the support and the help of all France, of the France that fights, of the only France, of the real France, of the eternal France!”
- Charles de Gaulle after the liberation of Paris on August 25th 1944