On November 3, 1984, here is what President Reagan said about the United States, France, and Lafayette:
Q. Can France count on the U.S. if it were attacked, even though the U.S. might be at risk?
The President. Frankly, I find the question puzzling. France is America's oldest ally. You fought by our side in our War of Independence. We fought by yours in this country's two most bloody world conflicts. We owe each other our very national existence. We are each pledged, through the North Atlantic Treaty, to treat an attack upon the other as an attack upon ourselves. I assure you America forgets neither our common history, nor our current commitments.
I know there are those who cast doubt upon the durability of America's commitment to Europe. Yet on my side of the Atlantic there is no doubt that America's security, its prosperity, and its freedom are inextricably linked to those of our European partners. Nearly a million American doughboys arrived in France in World War I with the greeting, "Lafayette, we are here." A quarter of a million American soldiers, sailors, and airmen are in Europe today, as they have been for more than 30 years, the visible evidence of our continuing solidarity. Today America still says to Europe, "We are here, and we will stay as long as we are needed and wanted."
Q. How do you see the French when you think about them?
The President. I think of the French Revolution, the Rights of Man, and our common defense of democratic values for two centuries. Of course, no one who has ever visited France can forget the beauty of the country or the ingenuity and creativity of its people. But for me, France is, above all, the wellspring of Western culture and democratic ideas, and our ally, today as in the past, in their defense.