I thought it was somewhat delayed, not paid, yet.
Some of that is the accident of geography: it simply wasn't necessary. Today, we are more connected to our Spanish-speaking neighbors, and the value of learning that language is becoming increasingly obvious. I don't know whether the schools are doing a better job of stressing that than they did when I was in school.
I have indeed chosen to learn other languages, several of them. I wish I'd done it in school, at a time when my brain was more open to it. Unfortunately, that was also a time when I didn't know very much and put my priority on other things that ended up making less of a difference in my life.
It's hard to find more data beyond my anecdata -- an EdWeek article I found reported that less than 50% of schools report world language enrollment data.
Also, the Europeans who learn three or four languages in school also have the luxury to learn those languages for free* through public schooling, so I'm not sure I understand your point.
I am sure that your implication that every American kid can get a quality free foreign language skill in school is false: just like almost every single other educational outcome in the US, it's generally great in the good (wealthy, suburban) schools and terrible in the bad (poor, rural or urban) schools.