It's not the legacy Rep. Walter Jones would have wanted. But coverage of the longtime North Carolina congressman's death on Sunday is reminding the world that he helped make "freedom fries" a thing. Back in 2003, Jones received a letter from a constituent who owned a diner and had renamed his fries as a way to snub France—the French had just announced their opposition to the US-led invasion in Iraq, reports the Washington Post. Jones would say later that he didn't quite know what to do with the constituent's suggestion to rename America's fries, and he forwarded the letter to Rep. Robert Ney, who had oversight over the House cafeteria. Ney loved the idea and renamed the cafeteria's fries, and the move instantly gained international attention when the lawmakers held a joint press conference.
Jones himself staunchly supported the Iraqi invasion, but he soon came to regret it and "made it his mission to atone for his vote," per the Raleigh News & Observer. “I did not do what I should have done to read and find out whether Bush was telling us the truth about Saddam (Hussein) being responsible for 9/11 and having weapons of mass destruction,” Jones said in 2015. “Because I did not do my job then, I helped kill 4,000 Americans, and I will go to my grave regretting that.” Jones became one of the first Republicans to reverse his support of the war, reports the AP, which notes that the move was especially newsworthy because the Marines' Camp Lejuene is in his district. (Jones signed more than 11,000 letters to families of dead troops.)