PARIS (AP) – Politicians and royalty observed a moment of silence at tombs across Europe on Sunday to commemorate the end of fighting in World War I and remember the millions of soldiers who died in that conflict.
Under Paris’ iconic Arc de Triomphe, President Francois Hollande remembered the Armistice by placing a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. King Albert II echoed that gesture in the Belgian capital. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, meanwhile, brought flowers to the Cenotaph in central London.
In the British capital, Big Ben rang out to mark the 11th hour, when the truce took effect, and then dignitaries there and around the continent observed a moment of silence.
While Nov. 11 marks the end of fighting in World War I, Britain and, for the first time France, remembered all of their war dead on Sunday.
As a nod to the new ritual, the children of two soldiers who died in Afghanistan helped Hollande lay wreaths at several spots in Paris, including a plaque that pays homage to students who defied a German order not to commemorate Armistice Day in 1940, when northern France was under occupation.
Poppies, woven into wreaths and worn on lapels, figured everywhere Sunday. The flowers became a symbol for the fallen soldiers of World War I because of the poem “In Flanders Field,” which describes the blooms growing over the graves of dead soldiers.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)