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“Ici repose un soldat francais mort pour la patrie 1914-1918” reads the tomb of France’s unknown soldier beneath the vault of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The tomb is crowned by an eternal flame and is always wreathed with flowers and other offerings.  The Arc de Triomphe is itself a war memorial. It honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The names of French victories and generals are inscribed on its inner and outer surface. Famous victory marches around or under the arc include the Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. (After the internment of the Unknown Soldier, military parades have avoided marching through the actual arch. The route taken is up to the arch and around its side out of respect for the tomb. Both Hilter and de Gaulle observed this custom during WWII).

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – Armistice Day marks the ceasefire agreement that ended World War I. It took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning on November 11, 1918.

The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations to commemorate fallen soldiers.  After World War II, many countries (including the United States) changed the name of the holiday to honor veterans of all wars.

To all the veterans and current service members and their families – thank you for your service and your sacrifice!

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