Bastille Day in Paris has people talking about freedom

Trump visit underlines choice between protectionism and globalism

By Matthew Dobson, Samantha Krauskopf and Robert Thomas

PARIS – Bastille Day arrived last month at an interesting moment for French politics. The first big national holiday since France elected Emmanuel Macron to the presidency, the day came on the heels of a tumultuous G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, where Europe decided it will go its own way with respect to U.S. foreign policy.

French’s various police forces and military branches all put boots on the
streets for Paris’s Bastille Day celebrations. No terrorist incidents or attacks
were reported.

Macron invited the U.S. President Donald Trump to attend the festivities in Paris, spurring Parisians and visitors to Paris alike to question France’s security situation regarding terroristic attacks. Bastille Day marked one year since the terrorist attack by truck in Nice.

Alain Bessaha, a security guard who lives in Paris, said he expects French military to “be in the streets of Paris for a long time.”

His uncertainty about what an extended period of high alert means for freedom for a country founded on the ideals of liberty, fraternity and equality.

Rocco Collarino, who is from Paris, said he does not feel safe because of the terrorist attacks in the capital the past few years. He works at Café Rey Bastille, a cafe near the Bastille, or the site that marks the French Revolution of 1789 Both the plaza and the café are named for the prison that once stood on the site, a prison torn down by revolutionaries.

Collarino said that though there are crowds on Bastille Day, the terrorist attacks have not been good for business at the café.

Sylvie Lemaire is from Laon, which is located northeast of Paris. Her husband is a security worker, so when holidays come around, she said they stay in Paris for his job. Extra security is needed in Paris for large events such as Bastille Day.

Bastille Day is more important to Lemaire now than in years past because by continuing to celebrate France’s independence without fear, she said, “we are standing up against violence.”



Every Bastille Day, Allen Caillemer and his wife, owners of a winery in the Loire Valley, trek to Paris to stay in the Hôtel de Crillon, which is in the heart of Paris. Such an advantageous location helps them better see the massive parade down the Champs Elysee and take advantage of the day’s festivities, including a 30-minute fireworks show at nightfall.

Caillemer said he and his wife walk the streets without fear. Echoing the “c’est la vie” attitude of many in Paris, he said terrorism and terror attacks are now simply a part of life.

“If we stop celebrating or traveling because of terrorist attacks, then we are living in fear,” said Claire Burrell, an Australian studying in France. “Living in fear is what the terrorists want, so we carry on.”

Cassie Rader, another college student from Australia, said she believes it is more likely to get sick licking a railing on the Metro than it is to become a victim of a terror attack on Bastille Day, so she’s planning on a full day of celebration.

Neither Burrell nor Rader said she would attend the big parade or the fireworks show, but their reason for avoidance is to avoid crowds, however, not fear of terrorism.

Of course, Trump’s presence added a different wrinkle to this year’s marking of the French Revolution.

“I feel it’s actually appropriate that he comes on Bastille Day, and I hope that he learns something about revolution,” said French resident Shelli Whitfeld.

Trump’s attendance was a good thing for Franco-U.S. relations, Bessaha said.

For Burrell, Trump’s visit provides an opportunity for the leader of the free world to “learn something about inclusion and tolerance instead of fear.”

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