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Seventy-five years ago, Charles de Gaulle, leader of France’s provisional government, returned to Paris. For four years, he had lived in exile in London. Now he made his way through an exuberant crowd at the Hôtel de Ville, the site at which France’s earlier revolutions and republics were consecrated, greeting the leaders of the nation’s resistance movements. De Gaulle had not planned or rehearsed the speech he gave on this occasion, but it was perhaps his greatest. “Do not let us hide this deep and sacred emotion,” he said. “There are moments that go beyond each of our poor little lives. Paris! Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the help of the armies of France, with the support and the help of the whole of France, of France that is fighting, of France alone.”

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