President highlights significance of Bastille Day parade
Paris, 14 July 2019
14 July has an origin: the storming of the Bastille. It was 230 years ago. It has a meaning: the French people winning their freedom. However, it was not until 1880 that 14 July, organized on the basis of a military parade, became our national day.
Since then, this parade has brought together the State authorities and the French people around their army and its emblems, flags and banners in the three colours of the Republic, bearing in gold letters our soldiers’ values: Honour and Country.
Every 14 July, all over France, the nation comes together to honour those whose mission is to guarantee, by force of arms, that the country is defended and its higher interests protected. Collectively it expresses its appreciation, respect and trust for those who have chosen the military life and accept its first requirement: the spirit of sacrifice, potentially the supreme sacrifice. It also pays tribute to all the forces who selflessly guarantee its security every day.
In this history, the parade of 14 July 1919 left a special mark on French people after more than four years of suffering and gallantry, with its trail of dead and wounded. Fronted by veterans who had been maimed and sustained severe facial injuries, the parade brought together the Allied armies that had participated in victory alongside the French armed forces. A hundred years on, the profile of the 2019 parade is very different, reflecting the urgent issues of our time and the priorities I have set for our defence.
One of those priorities lives on into the new century: a primary focus on the wounded and supporting them in their recovery. Injury is an inherent risk in combat and military engagement. The soldiers, sailors and airmen and women injured while defending us, whatever their age and injury, have rights over us. They are central to the life of our armed forces and to our concerns. They will be honoured in the closing image. Representing our society and witnesses to its solidarity, teenagers in universal national service will be involved.
Innovation for the benefit of operations, a major lever for preparing the future set out in the military estimates bill, is another theme that will be illustrated in the introduction to the parade.
Finally, I wanted to highlight our irrevocable European commitment, with a view to strengthening the security of our nation and of our continent’s peoples. Never since the end of the Second World War has Europe been so necessary. The building of a Defence Europe in coordination with the Atlantic Alliance, whose 70th anniversary we are celebrating, is a priority for France. It is the common theme of this parade. To act together and strengthen our ability to act together: this is among the challenges which the European Intervention Initiative, along with other key European projects, wants to take up. We are deeply grateful to all the European nations which are taking part in it and are represented today, because Europe is necessary to our security and our defence./.