“Drums, Bugles, Bayonets and Young Men in Uniform”

The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon Silently March onto the Lawns
of the American Ambassador to France’s Residence in Paris
Monday, May 26, 2009

Drums, Bugles, Bayonets and Young Men in Uniform

Parler Paris Nouvellettre®
Your taste of life in Paris and France
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Paris, France

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

It’s not every day one has the opportunity to step inside and on the grounds of the American Ambassador’s Residence in Paris, nor to be surrounded by so many young (and older) men in uniform…at least not for me.

At number 41, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, next door to the some of the most notable buildings in the city, is the Hôtel de Pontalba, originally designed by Louis Visconti, and now the residence of the Ambassadors from the United States. Its neighbors include the President of France at No. 55, The Élysée Palace and the embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at number 35.

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Parler Paris Nouvellettre® continued…

By the invitation of the Mark A. Pekala, the Deputy Chief of Mission in the U.S. Embassy in Paris, and the U.S. Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment, a select group was entertained yesterday morning in a special ceremony on the occasion of Memorial Day (a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May) by the U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps and the Silent Drill Platoon.

After tea, coffee and chocolate chip cookies in the main ballroom of the residence, in the gorgeous green garden, and under a light rain, first the Silent Drill Platoon, ‘silently’ marched in carrying bayoneted rifles, in a lineup of crisp blue dress uniforms. Rhythmically they slapped their sides and caught their rifles in leather-gloved hands, exhibiting their Marine Corps discipline and skill in split timing and precision maneuvers. Their weaponry was treated as a mother might treat a newborn baby, with loving care and a secure hold


They marched into the residence as quietly and perfectly as they had marched out, then the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps replaced them on the green grassy plain. The Corps of more than 80 Marine musicians perform for hundreds of thousands of spectators each year all over the U.S. and the world, dressed in ceremonial red and white uniforms. The conductor, Chief Warrant Officer-4 Brian Dix, has led “The Commandant’s Own,” more than 10 years, with a fun spirit and a happy wave of his wand.

Today we were expecting to hear news of Barack Obama’s appointment of Charles Hammerman Rivkin, President and CEO of entertainment company Wildbrain, Inc. and co-head of fundraising in California for the Obama campaign, as his pick for the new U.S. ambassador to France (officially to take office in the fall after Senate confirmation), but as of this writing, there’s no word of it. It’s reported that Rivkin could possibly accompany Obama during his June 6th visit to the D-Day beaches of Normandy.

The previous ambassador to France was Craig Roberts Stapleton whose wife, Dorothy Walker Stapleton, is a first cousin of George H.W. Bush. There has been a United States Ambassador to France since the American Revolution, the first being Benjamin Franklin from September 14, 1778 to May 17, 1785.

The English-born socialite, Pamela Harriman, once married to the son of Winston Churchill, and who was linked to many important and powerful men, was fun to have in the Ambassador’s Residence from 1993 to 1997, when I was first living in Paris. I felt privileged to have the opportunity to speak with her a few minutes at an organization’s Gala Event just before she died on February 5th after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while swimming at the Hôtel Ritz pool.

Dripping wet from the rain, but having thoroughly enjoyed the performance, we retired to the ballroom for more tea, coffee and cookies, while the young men in uniform changed into civilian attire and headed off into the streets of Paris for more tourist activities…as so did we.

To see the videos from their performances, click here:

If you don’t see the videos click here: 

The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon 1

The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon 2

The U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps 1

The U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps 2

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A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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