Hours before the military parade on Republic Day, soldiers paint the tires of a vehicle carrying BrahMos rockets, in Kolkata, India, on Jan. 26, 2019. (Daniel Chatard)

A father places his children in a Humvee, which is displayed in the city after the National Day military parade in Luxembourg on June 23, 2019. (Daniel Chatard)

The celebration of the military that President Trump ordered up for the Fourth of July is a new ritual for the United States. But it has a long history in other countries: For example, Trump seems to have taken his inspiration from France’s annual Bastille Day military parade, which he watched with French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017.

Many countries use events like these to convey an image of a national identity. In Russia, as in France, the national parades celebrate armed conflicts — victory in World War II, in Russia’s case. Italy and India celebrate the founding of their republics, much as the United States does on July 4. In Luxembourg, there’s a military parade to mark the birthday of a former grand duchess.

On the surface, all these displays of military power look pretty similar: There are airplanes, tanks, soldiers and other symbols of the strength of the state. But I’ve been photographing these parades trying to find smaller moments that don’t fit the overarching narrative quite as well — the sideshows, the breaks at the end of the performance, the tiny slip-ups. Through these pictures of the otherwise well-choreographed spectacles of military power, I’ve tried to question the role patriotism and nationalism play in modern-day nations and societies

A girl checks her phone on the side of the "Waltz of Victory“, performed a day prior to the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, on May 8, 2019. (Daniel Chatard)

An operation on a soldier is re-enacted on Victory Day in Tomsk, Russia, on May 9, 2018. (Daniel Chatard)

An equestrian of the Corrazieri, the honor guard of the Italian president, looks back after the changing of guards at Piazza del Quirinale in Rome, on June 1, 2019. (Daniel Chatard)

A military band walks to a bus picking it up after performing in front of the philharmonic hall, where the official ceremony takes place on National Day in Luxembourg on June 23, 2019. (Daniel Chatard)

A woman tries to get a view of the military parade on Bastille Day in Paris, on July 14, 2016. (Daniel Chatard)

Soldiers buy fresh fruit at a booth before the parade on Republic Day in Kolkata, India, on Jan. 26, 2019. (Daniel Chatard)

Soldiers stand on a street amid firecracker smoke after the completion of the rehearsal for the Italian Republic Day in Rome, on May 30, 2019. (Daniel Chatard)

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

More on In Sight:

Searching for traces of George Washington in places where his deeds remain cherished and celebrated

A new book of photographs offers a penetrating look at the segregated South during Redemption and Jim Crow

Mining for gold in the world’s highest permanent human settlement