President Macron, Brigitte. Melania and I are profoundly honored to host you and your entire French delegation for our first official state dinner.

And to America’s absolutely incredible first lady: Thank you for making this an evening we will always cherish and remember. Thank you, Melania.

Tonight we celebrate nearly two and a half centuries of friendship between the United States and France. Yesterday we had a wonderful visit to Mount Vernon, a place that is truly special in the history of this very remarkable friendship.

It was there that General George Washington met with General Rochambeau to finalize battle plans for victory at Yorktown, many, many victories. It was there after the war that General Lafayette returned to visit his adoptive father, George Washington. Lafayette named his only son after Washington as a tribute to respect and love for his dear friend.

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And there at Mount Vernon, hanging on the wall for all to see, is the key to the Bastille, a gift from Lafayette to Washington. This tool of imprisonment had become a symbol of liberty, the desire for freedom that burns brightly in the heart of every French and American patriot.

This is the divine flame which Victor Hugo wrote that evil can never wholly extinguish and which good can make to glow the splendor.

This is the flame that spurred American soldiers to join the French on the battlefields of World War I; this is the flame of French resistance, of which Charles de Gaulle rallied his country in 1940.

More than a million Frenchmen took up arms to defeat fascism in World War II, and this is the conviction that unites the French and American soil as we work together every day to build a future that is more just, prosperous and free.

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The veins that link our nations are forged in battle, strengthened through trial, and defined by the timeless principles that make us who and what we are: respect for life, love for our neighbors, pride in our traditions, defense of our heritage and reverence for the rights bestowed on us through grace and the glory of God.

So tonight I ask that we raise our glasses as I offer this toast to President Macron and Brigitte, to the French delegation and to every proud citizen of France. May our friendship grow even deeper. May our kinship grow even stronger. And may our sacred liberty never die. God bless you, God bless France, God bless our alliance and God bless America.

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