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LETTERS

Let's give the French their due

January 26, 2003

Regarding "To Enjoy France, Say Au Revoir to Those American Stereotypes" (Her World, Dec. 15): I took French in high school and had another year in college, where we studied the history of France in French. I have been to France three times for two weeks or more and loved every minute of it. The food, culture, history, art and people form my favorite memories.

My uncle and aunt went to France every year. Their attitude was, "We saved your bacon twice in this century," and that idea prevails.

The truth is, we just paid back a long overdue debt. The U.S. exists because the French backed us diplomatically, financially and militarily. Louis XVI drained France's treasury supporting our armed rebellion against the English monarchy. At Yorktown, Va., where Gen. Charles Cornwallis surrendered in 1781, the Revolutionary Army was supported by French troops and the French navy, which blockaded the British from resupply or evacuation.

As in any other country, including ours, yelling at people in a language they do not understand makes no sense. Learning a few phrases, even if not properly pronounced, will go a long way. I have learned to say hello in 10 languages. You'd be surprised at how smiles replace frowns.

Barry J. Branagan

Thousand Oaks

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