The U.S. troops have been practicing! Friday will be a historic day in Paris. In commemoration of the U.S. entry into World War One, 200 American service members will lead the Military Parade on Bastille Day, July 14, 2017. The French government traditionally invites a country of honor to lead the parade. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander, U.S. European Command said, “France stood with us during the American Revolution and that strategic partnership endures today. 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.”

The United States just threw itself a big birthday bash –  its 241st. The red, white and blue was on full display July 4, 2017, as we marked another year of independence with celebrations, fireworks, parades, and summer fun. Throughout urban cities and rural America, ceremonies large and small were too numerous to count.

Salutes and tributes to our military, both past and present, were abundant. We can still personally thank veterans who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War and Operation Inherent Resolve. Yet the veterans who fought in “the Great War”, World War One, 100 years ago, are no longer with us.

On July 4, 1917, U.S. troops were in the early stages of combat across the Atlantic. Much of Europe became involved in 1914, with over 80 countries eventually participating during the war years of 1914-1918. Initially taking a position of neutrality, President Woodrow Wilson officially declared the U.S. at war with the German Empire on April 6, 1917. By July of 1917, increasing numbers of U.S. forces were arriving in France, under the command of General John Pershing.

Over 4.7 million American men and women served in the U.S. military during World War 1, with over 2 million deployed overseas. The United States lost over 116,000 soldiers in combat, and over 200,000 were wounded. More Americans gave their lives in World War One than in the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. Over 350,000 African Americans served in the U.S military, as well as Native Americans, and for the first time, women joined the ranks of the U.S armed forces.

Next week in France, a commemoration will take place marking a significant event in that country’s history. Bastille Day, the common name given to French National Day, is held annually on July 14th. Commemorating the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, a turning point in the French Revolution, this oldest and largest regular European military parade is held on the morning of July 14 on the famed Champs-Elysees in Paris. Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron will be in attendance along with French officials, foreign guests, and other dignitaries.

This year, July 14, 2017, President Donald Trump will attend the celebrations at the invitation of President Macron. As a tribute to the U.S. forces who fought alongside our French allies one century ago, American troops will march alongside French soldiers. In addition to the ceremonies, the “two leaders will further build on the strong counter-terrorism cooperation and economic partnership between the two countries, and they will discuss many other issues of mutual concern,” according to a White House statement.

A long-time supporter of veterans and military families, including the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and White House staff continued a longstanding tradition at the White House on July Fourth. Hosting a picnic on the South Lawn of the White House and a fireworks display from the Truman Balcony, the president addressed individual members of each branch of the service, stating “each of you here today represents that rare combination of patriotism, virtue, and courage that our citizens have always, and I mean always, admired and that our enemies have always feared. I pledge my unwavering support for you, your families and your missions. I will always have your back.”

The United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars has been tasked with commemorating the historical role of the United States during World War One. Considered “the Great War” at the time, it has become “the forgotten war” for many. There is no national memorial to World War One in our nation’s capital. Pershing Park in the District of Columbia has been designated as the site for the National World War One Memorial. From 2017 through 2019, the World War One Centennial Commission will coordinate events and activities commemorating the U.S. Centennial of the Great War. It is the commission’s goal to build the memorial. As the Official Licensee of the U.S. WW1 Centennial Commission’s merchandise program, C. Forbes, Inc. is proud to play a small role in this endeavor. A portion of proceeds from the sale of merchandise will go towards the building of this memorial. Please visit www.shop.worldwar1centennial.org to view and purchase merchandise.

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