While recent celebrations of the 75th Anniversary in Normandy would seem to indicate that the friendship between the US and France is as strong as ever, the tree symbolizing that long-standing alliance has died.
The oak sapling that French President Emmanuel Macron presented to President Trump last year to symbolize 100 years of friendship between the two nations died while in quarantine, the French newspaper Le Monde reported.
“100 years ago, American soldiers fought in France, in Belleau to defend our freedom. This oak tree (my gift to @realDonaldTrump) will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us,” Macron wrote on Twitter at the time.
The two leaders planted the tree on the White House lawn in April 2018 during Macron’s state visit to Washington, as their wives, Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron, looked on.
But it went missing shortly afterward.
Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to the United States, said that the tree had to be dug up and put in quarantine to comply with US customs regulations. The quarantine is mandatory for any living organism imported to the US, to avoid the introduction of non-native parasites.
The sapling died while in quarantine.
A Symbol of Friendship and Comradery
The oak originally sprouted at the site of the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood in northern France, where about 2,000 US troops died fighting the Germans in 1918.
When the two leaders appeared alongside each other in Normandy last week to mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France, Macron spoke in favor of multilateralism, subtly beseeching the US leader to pursue international cohesion.
Since then, and amidst reports of the symbolic tree’s demise, its death has been used as a metaphor by French and other European news outlets for the deteriorating relations between the US and Europe.