France is a great nation and the French a glorious people. Notre Dame Cathedral speaks to that: Even while burning, it represents France’s majestic culture and history. It was mostly completed just two years after the Mongol annihilation of Baghdad and 545 years before Napoleon’s great victory of Austerlitz.
When rebuilt, Notre Dame will once again represent abundant French pride and resilience. America should play a part in that rebuilding. It will likely be expensive, perhaps reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Still, France is our oldest ally. It is the ally that made George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams our nation’s fathers, rather than traitors who died on the gallows at the hands of British rulers.
Now, France and Notre Dame deserve our help.
[Related: Trump says Notre Dame Cathedral fire a ‘terrible sight to behold’]
In service of our shared history and deep friendship, President Trump should consult with French President Emmanuel Macron. He should then ask Congress to authorize a grant to France worth 17.83% of Notre Dame’s total reconstruction costs. That funding would serve two purposes: offering tangible solidarity to France and making that solidarity a partner to our continuing history. (1783 was the year the Treaty of Paris was signed and Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States.)
This isn’t only about symbolism, however.
Mutual interest demands that France and America face the rest of the 21st century together as allies. Helping France return Notre Dame to glory will represent something special but simple: America’s clear intent that no hardship or fire will ever destroy our “fraternité.”
That symbol would mean something crucial for the U.S. and France: Together, our best days continue to lie ahead.