American soldiers will lead the military parade on France's Bastille Day on Friday, marching down the famous Champs-Elysées in Paris with both President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron in observance.
Nearly 200 American troops assigned to units in Europe and the 1st Infantry Division based at Fort Riley, Kansas will partake in the ceremony to commemorate the centennial of the United States entering World War I, according to the Department of Defense.
"France stood with us during the American Revolution and that strategic partnership endures today," said Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of 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."
Bastille Day is an annual French holiday that marks the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris on July 14, 1789, a significant moment in the French Revolution.
It is customary for France to invite a foreign country to lead the parade. After the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, cadets from the United States Military Academy and New York City firefighters marched in the parade in 2002.
In addition to the troops marching this year, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and an F-22 will fly over the parade.
During Wednesday's rehearsal, troops marched along the Champs-Elysées in camouflage uniforms, with some wearing World War I style helmets.
Scaparrotti said America's participation will also honor those U.S. soldiers who served in World War I.
"During the centennial of America's entry into World War I, we commemorate America's sons and daughters who defended peace—many of them descendants of European immigrants who came to America seeking freedom, opportunity, and a better life," he said. "Amidst the horrors of war, over 4 million Americans served in World War I and more than 100,000 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice."