French President Presides Over Scaled Back Bastille Day Celebration

Fighter jets streaked across the skies over Paris Tuesday, creating trails of blue-white-and-red smoke as France celebrated a somewhat subdued Bastille Day.The country’s biggest national holiday was recalibrated this year to celebrate the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, with ambulance drivers, supermarket cashiers, postal workers and medics among the many honored.This year’s commemorations also paid homage to former President Charles de Gaulle, 80 years after the historic appeal he made to opponents of France’s Nazi occupiers that gave birth to the French Resistance.Additionally, a helicopter flyover featured vehicles which transported COVID-19 patients in distress. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.Soldiers hold a French flag during a rehearsal for the Bastille Day parade on the Concorde square in Paris, July 13, 2020.In a traditional speech to the military Monday ahead of the celebration, French  President Emmanuel Macron said the celebration offers a glimmer of hope, but people should remain vigilant amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.Normally world leaders or other dignitaries attend the celebrations. But guests at this year’s event are nurses, doctors, supermarket and nursing home workers, mask makers, lab technicians and others who kept France going during its strict nationwide lockdown.Families of medical workers who died of the infection also have a place in the stands.Bastille Day marks the anniversary of the 1789 storming of the Bastille, a medieval fortress used at that time as a political prison. The event has come to symbolize the beginning of the French revolution.