200 American military members will march at the head of the military parade in Paris on Bastille Day to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I.

The gesture of friendship coincides with President Donald Trump’s first visit to Paris since he assumed the presidency. Trump will be received by French President Emmanuel Macron as the guest of honor for the celebration.
In a press release from U.S. European Command, General Curtis Scaparrotti said “France stood with us during the American Revolution and that strategic partnership endures today,”

“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 Parade and help celebrate the French independence.”

Trump and Macron will observe thousands as they march in the military procession down the Champs-Elysees. Bastille Day in France is a national holiday celebrating the storming of the Bastille in 1789 during the French Revolution. It remains the largest and oldest recurring military parade in Europe, and the holiday is celebrated around the world. This will be the first time Americans have led the parade in its history.

The United States entered the war by declaring war on Germany in April 1917, only after years of attempting to stay out. Large numbers of American combat troops did not arrive on the Western Front until 1918, the war’s final year. However, many Americans had been fighting in France for years as volunteers, a notable example being a squadron of most American fighter pilots called the Lafayette Escadrille. Over 115,000 Americans died participating in World War I.

Security in Paris is heightened with the high-profile of Trump’s visit, as well as being the first Bastille Day celebration since last year’s terror attack in Nice which killed 86 people. Trump has stirred controversy during his candidacy and presidency over comments he has made criticizing France, saying “Paris is no longer Paris” after a series of Islamist terror attacks have rocked the country over the last few years.

Featured image courtesy of Josh Hallett on Wikipedia