Spirit of Freedom atop July Column

Did you know July 14th France celebrates Bastille Day?

On July 14, 1789 oppressed French citizens stormed a prison and military barracks, the Bastille, beginning the French Revolution. The French Revolution changed history in myriad ways and its example continues to inspire democracy around the world today.

Bastille Day became a public holiday in 1880, and except during WWII, Paris has hosted a military parade each year on this date. Since 1918, the parade in Paris has been held on the Champs-Elysees, passing from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. This military parade is one of the oldest and largest in Europe, and from 1940 until 1944 the Free French Forces marked the holiday with a parade in London. And, it isn’t just a big deal in Paris. Annual Bastille Day celebrations are held across France, across Europe, and in over 50 U.S. cities.

Wilbur Wright had the privilege of attending Bastille ceremonies in Paris in 1907. This included President Clément Armand Falliéres of France, Premier Georges Clemenceau, and Gen. Georges Picquart reviewing the French troops at Longchamps. Wilbur was a VIP, with his tickets provided by the French War Office. It had been just a four years earlier in 1903 when the Wright brothers achieved the first powered flight.

Undoubtedly there were those in 1789 who said French people dreaming of liberty were fools. Orville and Wilbur Wright had dreams of flight that many thought were just as outlandish. But the French people never gave up the dream of liberty and they triumphed. Likewise the Wright brothers never gave up on their dreams and they too achieved them. Please join with us as we honor the memory of all such dreamers by keeping your own dreams alive.

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