Today is le quatorze juillet, the Fourteenth of July. On this day in 1789, an angry crowd forced its way into the Bastille, a medieval-era prison in the center of Paris. Despite the fact that there were only seven prisoners in the Bastille at the time of its storming, the incident is widely regarded as one of the turning points in the incipient French Revolution. I'm not wild about much of what went on during and after that revolution (I've been to the Conciergerie a couple of times, and walked through the cells where they kept aristocrats and others who were waiting their turn to be "shaved by the national razor," as the guillotine was often called. I've also seen the lists displayed there of the thousands of people who suffered that fate--hardly anything to celebrate.)
Nevertheless, I feel a kinship with France, having spent several extended stays there. I'm not quite sure I'm ready to argue, with Benjamin Franklin, that "Chaque homme a deux patries: la sienne et la France" ("Everyone has two countries: His/her own, and France"). But today I can say, with several million Frenchmen and -women, "Vive la France!"