Centenary of WWI's end bringing leaders to Arc de Triomphe

An overview of the international ceremony taking place in Paris on Sunday for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I:

WHO IS ATTENDING: Leaders from the majority of countries that sent troops or workers to the Western Front. Notably absent will be the president of China. Chinese laborers worked behind the front lines and died in the war.


TIMING: French President Emmanuel Macron and other heads of state and government are scheduled to arrive at 11 a.m. (1000GMT). That is the exact time the fighting stopped on Nov. 11, 1918 after more than four years of bloodshed, shelling, chemical weapon attacks and the horror of the first global war.


READINGS: High school students will read letters that soldiers and others wrote on the day the armistice was signed a century ago, giving voices to ghosts from the past.

"Finally, the whir of the shells and the whistling of the bullets are over," wrote Alfred Roumiguieres, a French infantryman.

"Today has been perfectly wonderful," Charles Neville, a British officer, wrote to his parents. "We got news of the armistice at 9:30 this morning."

U.S. Army Capt. Charles S. Normington wrote that "each soldier had his arms full of French girls, some crying, others laughing; each girl had to kiss every soldier before she would let him pass. There is nowhere on earth I would rather be."


OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Macron, foreign VIPs and high school students will gather at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe and light the eternal flame that is rekindled every night at the memorial engraved with the words: "Here rests a French soldier who died for the nation."

There will also be music by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, three-time Grammy-Award winning African singer Angelique Kidjo and the bugler who breaks a minute of silence held during the ceremony.


For more information on World War I, go to The Associated Press' WWI hub: https://www.apnews.com/WorldWarI


World War I: An AP Centennial Commemorative Edition. Available now exclusively at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JGrx5U