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Why we should care about Bastille Day, July 14

Tucson is nestled near Mexico, infused with the Spanish language and in the middle of the fabled Wild West. Some may wonder why we should give a hoot about Bastille Day.

Vive la France/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Vive la France/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Bastille Day, which is France’s July 14, 1789, version of our July 4, 1776, marks the day folks stormed the Bastille prison and kicked off the French Revolution.

Those who think prisons are useless, too costly or overcrowded may one day want to emulate such an event, already a reason to care about Bastille Day.

In addition to giving us a blueprint for setting a bunch of prisoners free, France’s momentous occasion should be honored because the country gave us a lot of cool things.

Wine and cheese: Gallery openings would not be possible without this French-inspired combination. Nor would we be able to enjoy soufflés, omelets, chicken cordon bleu or pate de foie gras. (Please excuse the lack of accent marks I couldn’t get that character map thing to work.)

Art and literature: Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Paul Gaugin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec rule the art end while Charles Baudelaire and Guy de Maupassant pick up the poetry and stories. One of the best stories I’ve ever read was Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace.”

Words and phrases: We are constantly using terms borrowed from the French, both in crossword puzzles and in everyday life. Soup du jour. Bon appetit. Menage a trios. L’aissez-moi tranquille vous etes un couchon.

Besides, some of us may still rue the fateful day we chose to study French over Spanish for 602 years, and Bastille Day gives us one excuse to actually use our language skills for things other than eavesdropping on the occasional tourist from Montreal.

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Do you care about Bastille Day?

Do you still find it useless, even after reading this compelling argument?

What is your favorite thing borrowed from France or your favorite French author, artist or cuisine?

What is your least favorite thing about France?

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