In solemn ceremony, Macron leads global WW1 Armistice commemorations

PARIS (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron led tributes to the millions of soldiers killed during World War One on Sunday, holding an emotional ceremony in Paris attended by dozens of world leaders to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice.

U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of monarchs, princes, presidents and prime ministers joined Macron to mark the moment guns fell silent across Europe a century ago.

Those who fought in the trenches of World War One lived through an unimaginable hell, Macron said in a 20-minute address, highlighting that as well as the deaths of 10 million troops, millions of women were widowed and children orphaned.

"The lesson of the Great War cannot be that of resentment between peoples, nor should the past be forgotten," said Macron, sorrow etched on the faces of former French soldiers standing to attention around him.

RELATED: Commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of World War I

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Commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of World War I
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Commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of World War I
(From L) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Morocco's Prince Moulay Hassan, Moroccan King Mohammed VI, US First Lady Melania Trump, US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove attend a ceremony the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, as part of the commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
U.S President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during ceremonies at the Arc de Triomphe Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 in Paris. Over 60 heads of state and government were taking part in a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the mute and powerful symbol of sacrifice to the millions who died from 1914-18. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II attends the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in London, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. Remembrance Sunday is held each year to commemorate the service men and women who fought in past military conflicts. 2018 marks the centenary of the armistice and cessation of hostilities in WWI, which ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,1918. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
French President Emmanuel Macron re-lights the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Benoit Tessier/Pool Photo via AP)
A soldier walks by wooden crosses and names of the missing during an Armistice ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. Sunday marks exactly 100 years since the end of the First World War. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
U.S President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron attend ceremonies at the Arc de Triomphe Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 in Paris. Over 60 heads of state and government were taking part in a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the mute and powerful symbol of sacrifice to the millions who died from 1914-18. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with US President Donald Trump as he arrives to attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, as part of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Heads of states and world leaders attend ceremonies at the Arc de Triomphe Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 in Paris. Over 60 heads of state and government were taking part in a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the mute and powerful symbol of sacrifice to the millions who died from 1914-18. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)
French President Emmanuel Macron's wife Brigitte Macron and U.S first lady Melania Trump pose Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 at Palace of Versailles. The companions of head of states and government were invited to a lunch hosted by France's first lady, Brigitte Macron, at the Palace of Versailles west of Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
French President Emmanuel Macron hugs German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 in Paris. International leaders are taking place in a ceremony in Paris on Sunday at mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, right, welcome German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 in Paris. International leaders are taking place in a ceremony in Paris on Sunday at mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
U.S first lady Melania Trump, center, poses with other leaders' companion Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 at Palace of Versailles. The companions of head of states and government were invited to a lunch hosted by France's first lady, Brigitte Macron, at the Palace of Versailles west of Paris. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
People react in front of a large inflatable blimp depicting President Donald Trump in Republique square in Paris, Sunday Nov. 11, 2018 ahead of an anti-Trump gathering. President Trump joined other international leaders in Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
US President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shake hands as they attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11, 2018 as part of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by BENOIT TESSIER / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read BENOIT TESSIER/AFP/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) touches the knee of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2nd R) as they sit next to US President Donald Trump (2nd L) and US First Lady Melania Trump (L) during a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11, 2018 as part of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by Francois Mori / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS MORI/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May lays a wreath at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 11, 2018. - On the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice, the days events mark the final First World War Centenary commemoration events hosted by the UK Government. Services are held annually across Commonwealth countries during Remembrance Day, to commemorate servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
(R-L) Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Britain's Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, lay wreaths at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 11, 2018. - On the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice, the days events mark the final First World War Centenary commemoration events hosted by the UK Government. Services are held annually across Commonwealth countries during Remembrance Day, to commemorate servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
(R-L) Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Britain's Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, lay wreaths at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 11, 2018. - On the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice, the days events mark the final First World War Centenary commemoration events hosted by the UK Government. Services are held annually across Commonwealth countries during Remembrance Day, to commemorate servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since WWI. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) US President Donald Trump (2nd R), holds the hand of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) as they attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11, 2018 as part of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I. (Photo by BENOIT TESSIER / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read BENOIT TESSIER/AFP/Getty Images)
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"It is our deeply rooted obligation to think of the future, and to consider what is essential."

The commemoration is the centerpiece of global tributes to honor those who died during the 1914-18 war and to commemorate the signing of the Armistice that brought the fighting to an end at 11 a.m. on Nov 11, 1918.

In a glass canopy at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, built by Emperor Napoleon in 1806, Trump, Merkel, Macron, Putin and the other leaders listened through earpieces as the French president spoke. Putin, who was last to arrive at the ceremony, gave Trump a brief thumbs up as he greeted them.

The commemoration included the reading by children of letters written by German, French and British soldiers during the war, a recital by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and a moving performance of Maurice Ravel's Bolero.

As Trump's convoy made its way up the Champs Elysees, a bare-breasted protester from the Femen radical feminist group ran towards his motorcade, coming within a few meters before being apprehended by police. Photographs appeared to show that she had the words "fake peacemaker" scrawled across her body.

 

"OLD DEMONS REAWAKENING"

In a rare public display of emotion by the leaders of two world powers, Macron and Merkel held hands on Saturday during a poignant ceremony in the Compiegne Forest, north of Paris, where French and German delegations signed the Armistice that ended the war.

The conflict was one of the bloodiest in history, reshaping Europe's politics and demographics. Peace, however, was short-lived and two decades later Nazi Germany invaded its neighbors.

Macron spent the week in the build-up to Sunday's ceremony touring towns and former battlefields along France's western front. He warned of the dangers of the resurgence of nationalism in Europe, saying it posed a threat to the continent - a theme he touched on again in his speech.

"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is its betrayal," Macron said.

"Old demons are reawakening, ready to sow chaos and death," he said, warning of how ideology, religion and a disregard for facts could be exploited. "History sometimes threatens to repeat its tragic patterns, and undermine the legacy of peace we thought we had sealed with the blood of our ancestors."

After the ceremony, leaders returned to the Elysee Palace for a lunch hosted by Macron and his wife Brigitte.

Later on Sunday, Macron will host the inaugural Paris Peace Forum, which seeks to promote a multilateral approach to security and governance and ultimately avoid the errors that led to the outbreak of World War One.

Merkel said the forum showed that "today there is a will, and I say this on behalf of Germany with full conviction, to do everything to bring a more peaceful order to the world, even though we know we still have much work to do."

Trump, who champions a nationalist 'America first' policy, will not attend the forum but Putin is expected to do so.

(Additional reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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