Lafayette, we are here
If you are a Francophile, or just plain old French or Creole (here’s to you, Ben and Aaron!), then consider this Happy Bastille Day.
In honor of the ceremony in Paris, 190 troops from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines will march alongside thousands of French servicemen and women in the Friday parade, and U.S. military planes will contribute to the grand flypast.
The select honor guard leading the American contingent for the parade are patch-wearing members of The Big Red One– 1st U.S. Infantry Division– who will be marching with M1903 Springfields, cartridge belts, and M1917 Brodie style helmets, while some officers will be carrying M1902 pattern swords of the same sort carried by Pershing when he walked off the deck onto French soil.
The Americans will lead the Military Parade on Bastille Day, July 14, 2017, along the famous Champs-Elysées in Paris in commemoration of the U.S. entry into WWI.
“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 Parade and help celebrate the French independence.”
On July 4, 1917, U.S. Army regular, Lt. Col. Charles Egbert Stanton–nephew of Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, SpanAm War vet and chief disbursing officer and aide to Pershing– visited the tomb of French Revolution and American Revolution hero Marquis de La Fayette and was famously attributed as saying, “Lafayette, we are here!”
It should be noted that this occurred after the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, (then part of the Big Red One) paraded through the streets of Paris.
The unit went on to suffer the first American casualties of the war in the Trenches just weeks later. On 4 October 1918, the 16th was the only regiment in the entire First Army to take its regimental objectives in the opening attacks in the Meuse-Argonne. Today the 16th carries the French Fourragère, awarded after Normandy in 1944, and while the 2nd Battalion inactivated in 2015, 1-16 is still part of the 1st ID, and the battalion colors are in the color guard at the head of the parade.
Meanwhile, in the air, the Thunderbirds have been practicing for the flypast.