Yesterday, President Obama was in Belgium for a short visit. He visited one of the military burial grounds from World War One, and in his speech he praised our country as 'Brave Little Belgium'.
This expression is not new. Julius Ceasar already praised the braveness of the Belgians.In his military exploit he mentioned the Belgae as the 'bravest of the Gauls'. The expression 'Brave Little Belgium' was first used by the American ambassador in 1914, but also Presidents Woodrow Wilson and J. Edgar Hoover have used it as well.
For Americans, it was strange that a small country such as ours dared to deny the Germans throughfare through the country. We were neutral, but of course the Germans did not care about it. Still, we put up a defense against the German army and that kept them from reaching Paris in France.
This was the reason why the Americans offered us humanitarian relief in the form of food packages which were dropped. Lots of people have survided because of them.
Today, Belgium remains a firm ally of the Unitited States, and while our army doesn't mean a lot in force, it is known for the knowhow in building bridges and offering aid in war zones such as Syria.
And what is even more astonishing to Americans is that we still exist as a country, even when there are so many controversies and complex situations with Flemings and Walloons. Even without a government (after the last elections, it took over a year to form a government) we went along without a problem, because our institutions work very well.