WORLD leaders gathered in Paris yesterday for the Armistice centenary amid one of France’s greatest ever security operations.
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at the solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who was the last to arrive, gave Mr Trump a thumbs up in an apparent gesture of friendship. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau were also among the heads of state and royals attending. Prime Minister Theresa May was in London at the Cenotaph yesterday, having paid her respects to the war dead in France two days earlier when she joined Mr Macron on the Somme battlefield.
At the ceremony the leaders listened to translations on headphones as Mr Macron paid tribute to the 10 million troops killed in the war on all sides and offered a vision of reconciliation. He said: “The lesson of the Great War cannot 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.” Mr Macron, who is committed to the EU, also warned nationalism was on the rise again in Europe. He described it as a betrayal of patriotism”. However, his message could also have been aimed at Mr Trump, who is pursuing a more isolationist “America First” policy, and Mr Putin who is presiding over a burgeoning Russian military and who annexed the Crimea from the Ukraine in 2014. Mr Macron said: “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is betrayal. Old demons are reawakening, ready to sow chaos and death. “History sometimes threatens to repeat its tragic patterns, and undermine the legacy of peace we thought we had sealed with the blood of our ancestors.” The world leaders also listened to children reading letters written by German, French and British soldiers during the war.
About 10,000 police officers backed by military and counter-Towns and cities come together to remember A “HUMAN poppy” was yesterday the centenary centrepiece of an innovative tribute to the war dead. More than 3,300 people donned coloured ponchos to create a worldrecord recreation of the flower that has come to symbolise the First World War.
They filled the market place of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, in a sea of colour – just one of thousands of commemorations across the country. One of the first was a dawn commemoration in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, which was the first town in the UK to hear of the Armistice thanks to a radio operator intercepting a Morse code message from French Marshal Ferdinand Foch ordering a ceasefire at 11am. Enniskillen learned of the end of the war two and a half hours before any other part of the kingdom – and the news spread like wildfire. In honour of this place in history more than 100 people gathered at the city’s castle before dawn, with the Last Post played on the bugle that sounded the charge of the 36th Ulster Division at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.