Armistice Day, called L’armistice de la Première Guerre Mondiale in France, is the commemoration of the end of World War I.
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Other countries celebrate the end of the war but some call it Veterans Day and others, Remembrance Day. At 11am, on November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allied Forces and Germany at Compiègne in northern France. This effectively ended the war on the Western Front but fighting continued, especially in the Russian Empire and in parts of the Ottoman Empire.
In France, Armistice Day is a day of respect. Churches hold services in memory of those who fell, military parades are held and wreaths are laid at war monuments and at a special tomb in Paris.
France and the United Kingdom were the first countries to create tombs their unknown soldiers. On 11 November, 1920, in London, an unknown soldier was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey and, in Paris, an unknown soldier was placed in the chapel of the Arc de Triomphe then later buried under the Arc at what is called the La tombe du soldat inconnu. The coffin of the soldat inconnu was one selected from eight coffins laid before a young recruit soldier, Auguste Thien. The soldat inconnu now represents the many soldiers killed in both world wars, who were unidentified. An eternal flame has burned on the tomb under the Arc since 1920.
At exactly 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, Armistice Day, one-minute’s silence is held and France stops and people pray, reflect and pay respect to those who fought and died for the freedom the country now has. Red poppies are worn as a symbol of respect and the French flag flies from poles across the country.
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