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Vive la cavalerie!



Napoleonic regiment to ride into 21st century

May 17, 1997
Web posted at: 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT)

PARIS (CNN) -- Amid the rolling hills of northern France, the low rumble of horses galloping carries over the quiet landscape. High-pitched yells from cavalry at full charge pierce the air as if in a bloody battle.

It's an annual event carried out by France's cavalry regiment of the Republican Guard, which dates back to the Napoleonic icon (1.3MB/35 sec. QuickTime movie)

And in France, where traditions die hard, the regiment was salvaged from a government plan to reform its armed forces. Under the plan, the armed forces are to become an entirely professional service by early next century, doing away with short-term conscripts.

The cavalry regiment of the Republican Guard will not be affected. And they will still perform regular duties of protecting and escorting top government officials. They will also continue to wear their 19th century uniforms -- fully decked with shiny brass buttons, golden epauletes and helmets adorned with hair from horses' tails.

As Capt. Xavier Guimard put it, "We're the upholders of tradition."

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