Victors, defeated, mark armistice
Paris, the City of Light, always was the grandest prize of the First World War, either to conquer or defend.
So it is only fitting that when victors and vanquished meet to mark the centennial of the armistice this weekend, the biggest ceremony should be on the famed Champs-Elysees at the
Arc de Triomphe.
On Friday, some leaders began remembrance events in a wide crescent of cemeteries and trenchrutted battlefields north of the capital.
British Prime Minister Theresa May laid wreaths for the first and last
British soldier killed in the fighting — the two were buried across from one another near Mons in southern Belgium. One grave holds the remains of Pvt. John Parr, killed Aug. 21, 1914. The other grave is of Pvt. George Ellison, who was shot on Nov. 11, 1918 — the war’s last day.
French President Emmanuel Macron continued his pilgrimage of First World War sites and caught up with May, as the two present day leaders of the Allied forces that defeated Germany walked past graves at the Thiepval memorial.
“Each cemetery and memorial across the world is a unique and poignant reminder of the cost of the First World War,” said May.
Sixty-nine heads of state and government will underscore that message at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month on Sunday, exactly a century after the armistice.
On Sunday, in a show of reconciliation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will open an international peace forum in Paris with Macron.