Anne de Gaulle

Anne De Gaulle

(I wrote this post back in 2009.  I am republishing it now because it has always been one of my favorites and the blog readership is far higher now.  Additionally it is one of several posts that I have written that I think, in retrospect, may have been God’s way of preparing me for the loss of my son Larry on May 19 of this year. )

 

 

Charles de Gaulle could be a very frustrating man.  Churchill, in reference to de Gaulle, said that the heaviest cross he had to bear during the war was the Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of the Free French forces.  Arrogant, autocratic, often completely unreasonable, de Gaulle was all of these.  However, there is no denying that he was also a great man.  Rallying the Free French forces after the Nazi conquest of France, he boldly proclaimed, “France has lost a battle, France has not lost the war.”  For more than a few Frenchmen and women, de Gaulle became the embodiment of France.  It is also hard to dispute that De Gaulle is the greatest Frenchman since Clemenceau, “The Tiger”, who led France to victory in World War I.  However, de Gaulle was something more than a great man,  he was also at bottom a good man, as demonstrated by his youngest daughter Anne de Gaulle.

Charles and Yvonne de Gaulle were both devout Catholics, so when their youngest daughter Anne was born on New Years Day in 1928, they had a strong faith to fall back on when they learned that Anne had Down Syndrome.   She also had birth injuries that meant that she would never walk unaided. There was never any question about Anne being institutionalized.  She was a member of their family, and she stayed with the family in all their travels.  There was one sacred rule in the de Gaulle household:  Anne was never to be made to feel different or less than anyone else.  Charles de Gaulle was noted for his reserve and even with family members he was usually not very demonstrative.  Not so with his daughter Anne, who received a warmth that he had seemed to be storing for his entire life just for her.  “Papa” was the one word that Anne could say clearly.  He would sing to her, read her stories and play with her.  She was, he said simply, “My joy”.   As de Gaulle said, “She helped me overcome the failures in all men, and to look beyond them.”

Yvonne de Gaulle, a formidable woman in her own right, as she demonstrated after the collapse of France in 1940 when by herself she traveled across the war torn country and made sure her family, including Anne, was on the last transport from Brest to England, in October 1945 bought the Château de Vert-Cœur and established a hospital for handicapped girls, the Fondation Anne de Gaulle.  The de Gaulles were heart-broken when their beloved daughter died on February 6, 1948  in her father’s arms.  After they had buried her, Charles gently told his weeping wife, “Maintenant, elle est comme les autres.”  (Now, she’s like all the others.)

Of course the de Gaulles did not forget their daughter.  Charles de Gaulles’ life was saved by his love for Anne on August 22, 1962 when an assassin’s bullet was deflected in the car he was riding by the frame of the picture of his daughter which he carried with him at all times.  When he died in 1970 he was buried beside his daughter at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises as he requested.  Love gives us no guarantees against the tragedies of life, but it does give us the strength to surmount them.

 

Anne De Gaulle

8 Responses to Anne de Gaulle

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    Gen and Mme de Gaulle frequently attended the 6.30 am weekday mass at the Madeleine, quite close to the Elysée Palace. I saw them there once, on my occasional visits in the early 1960s.

  • George Haberberger says:

    That is a very moving story and one that I was unaware of. Certainly a different attitude than the one Joseph Kennedy had for his daughter Rosemary.

  • Why therefore, given examples like these, can’t liberals understand that a defect doesn’t make one defective and unworthy of living, but rather gives cause to live even more brilliantly (i.e., luminously) than those without defect?

  • It’s not my response originally, Steve W., but St. Paul’s in 2nd Corinthians chapter 12:

    7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Can it not be argued that what made Charles de Gaulle truly strong was not his intellect, or his ability at strategy and tactics, or his acumen as a political leader, but rather the strength of his “weak and defective” daughter, a strength born and made perfect in such weakness and defect?

    OK, that’s enough sobriety and sanity from me for one day. Back to “Neutrons ‘R us”. ;-)

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .