Remembrance Day in Paris


Alvin Li, Staff Writer

Just over two weeks ago, ceremonies around the world took place as countries marked the hundredth anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War One. Going into effect on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918, the Armistice brought one of the deadliest conflicts in human history to a close. Now Armistice Day, also known as Remembrance Day coincides with our Veteran’s Day and honors the 21 million soldiers who gave their lives for their respective countries.

World leaders, veterans, and members of the public gathered for ceremonies around the world. In Paris, around 60 world leaders took part in the international Armistice Day commemorations led by French president Emmanuel Macron. He was joined by President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan among others for the ceremony.

As French fighter jets flew over, the leaders walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, situated at the foot of l’Arc de Triomphe, where letters written by soldiers at the end of the war were read aloud in a range of different languages. World renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma then played a moving tribute for the countless soldiers that fell in battle during the war.

President Macron then delivered an address, issuing a stern warning against the rise of nationalism, one of the “ancient demons” that caused so many wars in European history, World War One included. “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” he declared. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.”

He also added: “The lessons of the Great War can not be that of resentment between peoples, nor should the past be forgotten. It is our deeply rooted obligation to think of the future, and to consider what is essential.”

Following the ceremony, President Trump attended a lunch with world leaders and later visited an American cemetery close to Paris. He paid his respects to the 117,000 fallen US soldiers at Suresnes American Cemetery: “It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended and secure the peace they so nobly gave their lives for one century ago.”

Meanwhile across the English Channel, the United Kingdom observed a 2 minute moment of silence to remember the 900,000 British soldiers who fell in battle. The English royalty also laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in London. In an unprecedented move, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German president, also laid a wreath in the ceremony as a sign of the friendship between Britain and Germany..