BORN in Lille, France on November 23, 1896, the child got baptized as Charles Andre Joseph Marie de Gaulle. The lad, with Scorpio as his zodiac sign, proved to be a brilliant student, gifted writer, spirited public speaker, and, above all, a gallant soldier. With his height of 6 feet, 5 inches, he towered over everyone else; his presence would amazingly fill a vast hall. Not surprisingly, he quickly rose in rank to become one of France’s top generals.
When Nazi Germany invaded Europe, de Gaulle led the resistance, organizing the Free French Forces and opposing the puppet regime of Philippe Petain. For these acts, a French court condemned de Gaulle to death. But French and Allied Forces’ victory not only saved his life. He became France’s national hero.
Later, as “Europeanization” started creeping in, he famously defended nationalism, saying, “I cannot prevent the French from being French.” In time, he got elected to France’s highest position and governed as president for 11 years.
But like every mortal, old age crept on him. Confined in a hospital, he requested his beloved wife to search for his final resting place. Madame Yvonne de Gaulle dutifully went to the director of the national cemetery who showed her a lovely site overlooking the beautiful city of Paris.
When the lady returned to the hospital, de Gaulle asked, “And how much is the plot?” When she cited an enormous sum, he snorted, “Why would I pay so much when I will stay in the grave for only three days!”
Two days after his death in 1970, in a very simple ceremony, the hero of France was buried in a small town’s churchyard.