Champagne and Hot Dogs: How the Allies Celebrated the Fourth of July During WWI
By Claire Barrett
via the HistoryNet.com web site
“It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more,” John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776.
For 245 years the Fourth of July has been synonymous with hot dogs, red, white, and blue outfits purchased from Old Navy, and fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks. Precisely as our Founding Father predicted.
But in 1917, as war continued to rage on the Western Front, the newly arrived American doughboys expected little pomp and circumstance to mark their nation’s independence.
However, leave it to the nation’s oldest ally, the French, to throw a party.
French soldiers and citizens gathered across the country to celebrate the American holiday while U.S. troops marched through Paris as crowds of people cheered them on, according to the National World War I Museum and Memorial.
The following year the celebrations were even more grand, with a ceremony being held to rename Avenue du’Trocadero after President Woodrow Wilson.
“There was a warmness there. Roughly a third of [France’s] male population between the ages of 18 and 35, died in the first few years of the war,” Lora Vogt, Curator of Education at National World War I Museum and Memorial, told HistoryNet. “So anyone else who’s willing to come in and help defend their nation… I would say that most French were quite pleased that the Americans were coming in to be a bulwark.”
After three long years of brutal fighting, the U.S. entrance into World War I all but spelled defeat for the Germans. Only a mere three months after President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on the Central Powers American boots were on French soil.
That gratitude played out in the embracing America’s day of independence from the seats of both the Allied governments — King George ordered that the American Flag fly from Victoria Tower to mark the Fourth of July — on down to ordinary civilians.
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