U.S. Leaders Salute Fallen Heroes on Armistice Day Centennial in France
The United States renews its sacred obligation to memorialize its fallen heroes on the soil where they rest for eternity, President Donald J. Trump said Nov. 11 at Suresnes American Cemetery in France, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
“Exactly 100 years ago today, on Nov. 11, 1918, World War I came to an end, thank God. It was a brutal war,” the president said. “Millions of American, French and Allied troops had fought with extraordinary skill and valor in one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history.”
Trump said he came to honor American and French service members who died during the Great War.
In the United States, Armistice Day is now known as Veterans Day, Trump said.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and other senior government and military leaders attended the annual Nov. 11 National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, participated in the 100th Armistice Day commemoration in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe with Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and some 80 other heads of state.
Dunford also attended ceremonies at World War I gravesites of U.S. servicemen at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood in Belleau, France; and the Suresnes American Cemetery located outside Paris.
Victory had come at a terrible cost among the Allied forces, the president said at the Suresnes American Cemetery.
More than 1 million French soldiers and 116,000 American service members had been killed by the war's end. And millions more were wounded. Countless would come home bearing the lasting scars of trench warfare and the grisly horrors of chemical weapons.
On the grounds of Suresnes American Cemetery lie more than 1,500 U.S. service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the World War I, Trump said.
“Among those buried here are legendary Marines who fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood,” the president said, adding they “fought through hell to turn the tide of the war.”
It was in that battle that U.S. Marines earned the nickname “Devil Dogs,” arising from the German description of their ferocious fighting spirit, the president noted.
Each fallen service member at rest in the cemetery here “gave everything for family, country, God and freedom,” Trump said.
“Through rain, hail, snow, mud, poisonous gas, bullets and mortar, they held the line and pushed onward to victory,” he said. “It was a great, great victory; costly victory, but a great victory … . Never knowing if they would ever again see their families or ever again hold their loved ones,” the president said.
The American and French patriots of World War I “embody the timeless virtues of our two republics, honor and courage, strength and valor, love and loyalty, grace and glory,” Trump said. “It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended and to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago,” Trump said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)