Bastille Day 1919


A century ago American troops participated in the Bastille Day parade in Paris which also served as victory parade for the Allies.  A correspondent noted the presence of the Americans:


As Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces, Foch leads detachments from those forces. First comes Foch’s Staff, a large body of well-mounted officers. Then (as seems appropriate to us Americans!) come our own detachments in their alert, special West Point step — a hundred and thirty instead of the usual hundred and twenty steps to the minute Our men are in ideally exact block for mation. . .Our soldiers are headed by martial, stern-looking General Pershing. His cap visor and his chin seem on about the same angle. The composite battalion of infantry, made up of the best men from all the divisions, is followed by a naval detachment, which is getting even greater applause from the crowd. Yet, despite the bands’ “Over There,” all our men look a bit solemn, and a voice near me rings out: “Sonriez un pen.”

Go here to read the rest.  The Marseillaise scene from La Grande Illusion:


And my favorite version of the French National Anthem:


More to explorer


  1. Laramie Hirsch returns to 1P5 to offer a much needed wake-up call in the week when too many people are celebrating Bastille Day…and, one has to conclude, the unspeakable horrors of its aftermath.

    “The horrors that stemmed from that day cannot be overstated. Heads were paraded through the streets on pikes or even thrown at loved ones. Mobs of feral revolutionaries — like a riot of zombies — climbed over the walls of abbeys to slaughter clergymen with clubs, pikes, and axes. Common people, faithful church-goers, were targeted and killed. More than 1,800 people were drowned at Nantes, dropped in the frozen water and sunk down to the bottom to die.”

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