PARIS (AP) — France’s annual Bastille Day parade turned into an event high on American patriotism this year, marked by a warm embrace between President Donald Trump and his French counterpart on Friday.
French President Emmanuel Macron invited Trump as the guest of honor for the celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. The two men sat side by side with their wives, speaking animatedly as American and French warplanes roared above the Champs-Elysees.
The parade coupled traditional displays of military might with a look at wars past and present — and a nod to the U.S. role in both.
Macron, in a speech near the end of the event, thanked the U.S. for intervening in World War I and said the fact that Trump was at his side “is the sign of a friendship across the ages.
“And that is why I wish to thank them, thank the United States for the choice it made 100 years ago,” he said.
Macron also said that the U.S. and France are firm friends and “this is why nothing will ever separate us.”
Five of the 145 U.S. troops marching in Friday’s parade wore period World War I uniforms. Trump saluted the detachment as it passed. The U.S. president didn’t make any remarks.
Also in the parade were French soldiers taking part in the mission against the Islamic State group. France and the United States are among a coalition of nations fighting the extremist organization.
Shortly after his speech, Macron and Trump walked down from the tribune where they were sitting to stand in front of giant French and American flags that were unfurled by soldiers. The two mean shook hands and embraced, then clasping their hands together for a while before Trump was whisked away in his motorcade.
Trump is returning to the U.S., and Macron heads to the southern city of Nice, where last year an extremist plowed a truck into the holiday crowd, killing dozens. IS claimed responsibility for that attack and others in France, including one just last month on the Champs-Elysees that left only the attacker dead.
Two hours before the parade Friday, the famed Champs-Elysees avenue was emptied as was the Place de la Concorde with its golden-tipped obelisk. The wide boulevard has been targeted repeatedly by Islamic extremists, most recently last month when a man crashed his car into a convoy of gendarmes.