YPRES, Belgium — Armistice Day commemorations took place around the world on Thursday after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out ceremonies marking the end of World War I in 1918.
Dignitaries and government leaders on Europe’s Western Front stood still and reflected on the losses of millions during the Four Years’ War, which ended just over two decades later with the seeds of an equally brutal Second World War.
In Paris, President Emmanuel Macron was joined by US Vice President Kamala Harris on the Champs Elysees as a moving tribute to how France and the United States stood shoulder to shoulder to force a retreating Germany to surrender on November 11, 1918.
After a diplomatic row over France losing a deal to sell submarines to Australia to the United States, Harris and Macron kept each other warm during an outdoor ceremony on a crisp, sunny morning.
Other allied countries, from the United Kingdom to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, also had Armistice Day ceremonies and moments of silence.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accompanied national dignitaries in two minutes of silence in the UK pavilion at the ongoing COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
Beneath the Menin Gate in western Belgium, Ypres, in the heart of the Flanders Fields where hundreds of thousands died in the war, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stood between the walls with the names of more than 54,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers with no known names. to dig .
“They won’t get old,” said De Croo, emphasizing how memories last.
Across Britain, people paused in workplaces, streets and train stations for two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. in memory of the country’s victims of war.
Parliament’s Big Ben clock, which had been silent for several years due to repairs, was brought back to chime the hour with its deep water pipes. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, joined hundreds of veterans for a ceremony at nearby Westminster Abbey, where she laid a cross amid red poppies, a long-standing symbol of remembrance.
The Silence on Armistice has been observed in Great Britain since 1919, when King George V declared that “all locomotion must cease, so that, in perfect silence, the thoughts of all may be concentrated on reverent commemoration of the glorious dead.”
Last year, people were encouraged to mark the moment from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
World War I pitted the armies of France, the British Empire, Russia, and the US against a German-led coalition that included the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. Nearly 10 million soldiers died, sometimes tens of thousands in one day.
Casert reported from Brussels. Jill Lawless contributed from London.
View full article
© Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.