Like many other countries, France commemorates November 11, the date of the signing of the armistice that ended the First World War, in 1918. On that day, it pays tribute to the soldiers who died in action during this conflict. Discreetly observed for the first time in 1919, the commemoration of the armistice was the subject of an official ceremony from November 11, 1920:the French State on this day returned the funeral military honors to the unknown soldier. The remains of this unidentified soldier, chosen to represent all the French soldiers who died for the homeland,was buried under the triumphal arch of the Star, in Paris , and placed three years later near a flame of remembrance. The United Kingdom also marked the celebrations that year with the burial of an unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey, London. The United States followed the example in 1921, at the Arlington Military Cemetery (Virginia), soon imitated by other countries, such as Italy and Portugal, which entered the war in 1915 and 1916 respectively.
Since 1922, November 11 has been in Francea party national public holiday that commemorates the victory and peace. A new national worship of the dead, a ceremony is now organized in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier, marked in particular by a taking of arms, the laying of wreaths of flowers and the ringing of “to the dead”. This ritual is repeated in all the military cemeteries and memorials of the Great War,as well as at the foot of the municipal war memorials . The United Kingdom, the Commonwealth of Nations and other countries in Europe have a custom of two minutes of silence at 11 a.m., time of the signing of the armistice.
Since 2012, the French Republic has also paid tribute on this day to all those who died for France. Likewise, the United States dedicates this day to all of its fallen soldiers. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, reserve it in memory of veterans of the two world wars.
The commemoration of the armistice has sometimes turned into a day of remembrance dedicated to veterans, especially in Canada. In the United Kingdom, this Remembrance Day has been set for the second Sunday in November.
In Commonwealth countries, the poppy flower is associated with commemorations of the First World War because of the poem In Flanders Fields (1915, “Fields of Flanders”) by Canadian physician and lieutenant John McCrae. Paper poppies are sold for the benefit of veterans and hung on the back of their clothing, as a souvenir mark. In France, the cornflower flower took on symbolic value, because it recalled the color (blue) of the nine uniforms of young recruits, nicknamed “cornflowers” by their comrades.
Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, at 5:45 am for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. But, according to Thomas R. Gowenlock, an intelligence officer with the U.S. First Division, shelling from both sides continued for the rest of the day, ending only at nightfall. The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days and had to be extended several times. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year.
The date is a national holiday in France, and was declared a national holiday in many Allied nations. However, many Western countries and associated nations have since changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day, with member states of the Commonwealth of Nations adopting Remembrance Day, and the United States government opting for Veterans Day. In some countries Armistice Day coincides with other public holidays.
On 11 November 2018, the centenary of the Armistice, commemorations were held globally. In France, more than 60 heads of state and government gathered at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.