A cen­tury af­ter bat­tle for Paris, lead­ers mark WWI armistice

The State - - News - BY RAF CASERT

Paris, the City of Light, al­ways was the grand­est prize of World War I, 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 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 sur­vived some of the war’s worst bat­tles but was shot on Nov. 11, 1918 – the war’s last day.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron con­tin­ued his pil­grim­age of WWI 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.

Such was the sym­bolic im­por­tance of the French cap­i­tal that vic­to­ri­ous U.S. Gen. John J. Per­sh­ing said it was his “de­sire that ev­ery man in the Amer­i­can Ex­pe­di­tionary Forces should be given the op­por­tu­nity to visit Paris be­fore re­turn­ing to the United States.”

Far from ev­ery sur­viv­ing U.S. sol­dier from the 19141918 war made it to the French cap­i­tal, but on Sun­day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will join his French coun­ter­part and host, Em­manuel Macron, and oth­ers to re­mem­ber the mil­lions who died dur­ing the first global con­flict.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands from all cor­ners of the world died in Europe, many of them on the Western Front reach­ing from Bel­gium’s Flan­ders Fields al­most up to the Swiss bor­der.

PHILIPPE WOJAZER AP

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron talks to Ed­mond Salata Fri­day at the Mu­seum of the Great War 1914-1918 in Peronne, north­ern France.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.