Whether a victory march, a commemoration of past conflict or a showy flexing of military muscle, the tradition of soldiers publicly parading with their weapons goes back for millennia. Long designed to stir flag-waving fervor and impress enemies, such lockstep processions have especially been a favorite vehicle for authoritarian regimes throughout history.
Ancient Rome, circa 223 B.C.
As seen in this 1818 engraving by Bartolomeo Pinelli, the Roman military commander Marcus Claudius Marcellus (c.268-c.208 BC) returned to Rome in triumph, having defeated the Insubrian Gauls.
France, August 1804
Napoleon at the Boulogne-sur-Mer military parade. This was the site where he assembled his “grand army” to invade Britain.
United States, May 1865
A Civil War infantry unit with fixed bayonets marched on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., followed by ambulances, during the “Grand Review” of the Union Army.
Germany, September 1938
Thousands of marching Nazi stormtroopers paraded before Adolf Hitler in the streets of Nuremberg.
Soviet Union, May 1965
An intercontinental missile crossed Moscow’s Red Square during the military parade, marking the 20th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe.
United States, June 1991
Battle-fatigue-clad veterans of Operation Desert Storm marched in a Gulf War victory procession, the last military parade held in the U.S. capital.
North Korea, July 2013
Rocket launchers passed through Kim Il-Sung Square in the capital of Pyongyang during a military parade marking the 60th anniversary of the end of fighting in the Korean War. Leader Kim Jong-Un presided over the ceremony.
China, September 2015
In one of the largest parades of all time, China held a grand military procession to mark the 70th anniversary of victory in what it called “the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War.”
France, July 2017
Atmosphere during the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, celebrating the uprising that led to the French Revolution.