4th of July In Paris
July 07, 2014
Celebrating your country’s national holiday brings forth feelings of pride, patriotism and, for those not actually living in their home country, nostalgia. For the nearly 100,000 Americans living in Paris, this is a sentiment known far too well. Americans have long been an important thread in the ever-growing diverse tapestry that is France. From Ernest Hemingway to Josephine Baker, a number of Americans have made important contributions or risen to fame in France. So when July 4th arrives in Paris, both America and France take the opportunity to celebrate not only Americans living in Paris, but also the long-time bond between the two countries.
4th July At The US Embassy Paris
Arriving to the American Ambassador’s home the morning of the July 4th ceremony, our team was not entirely sure what to expect. After being greeted by the embassy’s press team, we were led into the Ambassador’s home and gardens where the ceremony would be taking place in a few hours. It didn’t take long for our jaws to drop. The historic home and sprawling lawn were animated to resemble America in Paris. Three-story high American and French flags, traditional American flag bunting, brass bands in costume and more. Did we mention the Starbucks, Chipotle Häagen-Dazs, Jim Beam and Le Camion Qui Fume stands? A true America in Paris.
As the 2000 invitees began to arrive (including ambassadors to other countries, industry invitees and other special guests), we examined the ceremony’s special animations: the Nieuport 28 C1 models and Ambulance 255. Speaking with Mitchell Moss, Spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Paris, we discovered the significance behind these displays. The Nieuport 28 C1 models are actual working replicas of the planes piloted by Lafayette’s squadrin and Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt during the First World War. Ambulance 255 is a reconstructed replica (using original parts) of the 1916 Model T Ford Ambulances that were donated by American individuals and organizations to the American Field Service during the First World War. 1200 of these ambulances were used by the American volunteers who paid their own way to France (plus uniforms and supplies) to help transport wounded soldiers from the front.
Parisianist Fast Fact: Every year on July 4th at Picpus cemetery in Paris, the American Flag that flies over the tomb of Lafayette (1757-1834) is changed in a highly orchestrated ceremony in tribute to Lafayette’s contributions to the American War of Independence.
July 4th Speeches
At 1PM the ceremony begins in the presence of Mark Taplin (Charge d’Affaires a.i. at the U.S. Embassy in Paris) and Anne Hidalgo (Mayor of Paris). They both give moving speeches about the relationships between France and the United States and their long history of collaboration together. In the same vein, Anne Hidalgo also highlights the exhibition taking place at Hotel de Ville “Août 1944, Le combat pour la liberté” (August 1944, The Fight For Freedom) who's campaign photo is a stunning shot of French girls smiling with American soldiers. In our conversation with Anne Hidalgo following the speeches, she also reinforces the unity between the USA and France, highlighting that it’s part of her mission to strengthen the bonds between Paris and select U.S. cities in the fields of science, education, start-ups and more.
At the close of the ceremony (popcorn and Pepperidge Farm cookies in hand), we step out of the ambiance of July 4th in America and back into that of Paris. This is the reality for all ex-pats living abroad, as much as you can embrace the culture of your new country, a piece of you will always belong to your country back home.