Bastille Day 2017 honored Americans who fought alongside French in WWI
By Nathalie Nguyen
On July 14, hundreds of American service members led the Bastille Day military parade down the Champs-Elysées in Paris, commemorating the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into WWI. The formation included some 190 troops from the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, which was formed to serve in WW1.
The event was attended by President Donald Trump and other American officials at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron. The United States World War I Centennial Commission Chairman Robert Dalessandro and Commissioner Monique Seefried were present at the event along with the Commission's Vice Chair Edwin Fountain.
As well as commemorating the 100th year anniversary of American troops joining their French allies in the war, this event also celebrates the longstanding partnership and friendship between the two nations.
“France stood with us during the American Revolution and that strategic partnership endures today,” said General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander, U.S. European Command. “On behalf of the 60,000 service members standing shoulder-to- shoulder with the French to ensure Europe is whole, free and at peace, we are honored to lead the Bastille Day.”
Known simply as “juillet 14” in France, Bastille Day is a national holiday that marks the storming of the Bastille Prison, which was used to imprison dissenting subjects by kings and monarchs. The taking of Bastille on July 14, 1789 provided momentum for the French Revolution.
Since the 1880, a military parade down the Champs-Elysées is traditionally held as part of the festivities and celebration. According to EUCOM, more than 3,765 people participated in this year’s parade.
U.S Air Force Thunderbirds and an F-22 Raptor joined the French Air Force Patrouille de France aerial demonstration squadron in grand flyovers overhead, as French spectators watched U.S troops marched near the Arc de Triomphe. The van of the parade was an American color guard unit, bearing flags and wearing WW1-period doughboy uniforms. An American flag was presented during the parade as “The Star-Spangle Banner” played, honoring the U.S entry into World War I.
“I wish to thank them, thank the United States for the choice it made 100 years ago," said French President Emmanuel Macron in a speech, expressing thanks to the United States for intervening during World War I.
At the parade, French and American servicemen and women marched together as one – a nod to the two countries’ historical friendship that began during World War I. The celebration ended with fireworks at the Eiffel Tower.
This year’s Bastille Day did more than celebrate French national pride, it honored the brave Americans who fought alongside the French during a time of international conflict.
Nathalie Nguyen is a Summer 2017 Intern at the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission.