About the Author: Marianne Sartori serves in the U.S. Embassy Paris Press Office.
As a French employee working at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, to me, July feels like the month of celebrations. A few days ago, we celebrated the U.S. Independence Day at the Ambassador's residence. Tomorrow, France will quiver with emotion when the tanks and military troops go down one of the most famous avenues of the world to mark Bastille Day. As it is well known, the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 was closely related to the U.S. revolution just a few years before, and Thomas Jefferson, the U.S. Ambassador to France at that time, was a supporter of the revolution in its early days. The links in the origins of the modern French state and the birth of the United States of America are one of the many reasons that our two countries remain old allies. July 4 and July 14 are two dates that both carry great historical weight, and I am lucky to see both our countries respectively celebrating them each year.
As in the United States, France celebrates its national day with parades and fireworks. I must say that the huge parade that takes place every year on the Avenue des Champs Elysees is always very impressive. I was able to see it with my own eyes two years ago, although I learned that if one wants a great spot, one should be there very early, which I was not. This is how I ended up being able only to catch a few glimpses of President Nicolas Sarkozy coming down the Avenue des Champs Elysees for his first Fourteenth of July. Even so, because it is such a special event, I loved it. The parade was -- and always is -- perfectly orchestrated. This year, fifty years after the independence of many former French colonies in Africa, troops from 13 African countries will march down the Champs Elysees as special guests. The stands were already set up a few days ago on the Place de La Concorde, visible from the U.S. Embassy. And as usual on July 14 in Paris, there will be also the wonderful colorful fireworks that will surround the Eiffel Tower around 23:00. Even though thousands of people are there, even though it is crowded, silence reigns when the event starts. I find Paris magical at that special time. Every year, these celebrations remind us about the importance of our history and about democracy.
The close proximity of our national holidays also reminds us of the continued close ties between the United States and France. Every day, the excellent state of U.S.-French relations continues to be celebrated, and a steady flow of official visitors serves to underscore the close relationship. Most recently, National Security Advisor General James Jones came to Paris on Monday 12, 2010, to discuss with his counterparts the many important issues dominating the bilateral agenda. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke has visited here to engage his counterparts, as has Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Phillip Gordon. Secretary Clinton came in late January, to be followed by Secretary Gates a few weeks later.
Today, France is once again part of NATO's integrated command structure, has several thousand combat troops in Afghanistan, and is a key partner of the United States. President Sarkozy's recent visits to the United States established once again the good relations between our two countries and mark our ongoing collaboration on various issues, such as Afghanistan, Haiti, NATO, the G-8, and the G-20. On every major world issue, France and the United States are working together to find solutions that increase the security and prosperity of people around the globe.
For more information about what is going on in Paris tonight and tomorrow, you can go to www.paris.fr to find information about the program and to watch the celebrations live. For more information on the Franco-American relationship and the activities of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, we invite you to visit the embassy's website or become a fan of our Facebook page.