French General and President Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (1890-1970) was born on this day in Lille, France. As a child, he had a passion for reading and history, with a steadfast devotion to his country.
He once said: "France cannot be France without greatness."
A prominent leader and expert of military history and tactical planning, De Gaulle was a World War I hero. At age 49, following the outbreak of World War II, he became the youngest general in the French Army. "Character is the virtue of hard times," he said.
Exiled in England following the German occupation of France and with the support of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, De Gaulle kept the flame of the Free French resistance movement alive then headed his country's 1944-1946 provisional government.
"A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless," he said.
Patriot, icon, and political powerhouse, he dedicated his life to resurrecting the glory of prewar France. "It was up to me to take responsibility for France," he said.
With a new constitution in place, he was elected President of the Fifth Republic in 1959 and wrote, "In the tumult of men and events, solitude was my temptation; now it is my friend. What other satisfaction can be sought once you have confronted History?"
Within, a treasure radiates.