One hundred years ago, at 11:00 a.m., on the 11th day of the 11th month, in a railway car in Compiègne, France, the Allied Powers and Germany entered into a cease-fire and ended the fighting of World War I.
The armistice on November 11, 1918, marked the end of more than four years of fighting during which more than 40 million people died or were wounded, making it one of the bloodiest wars in human history. When the armistice was announced, people cheered in the streets.
This year, many in America and around the world are marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, is hosting readings of soldiers’ letters and a special exhibit of poppy sculptures, commemorating the American servicemen and -women who lost their lives, by artist Ada Koch.
“After World War I, the poppy became a symbol of remembrance, hope and resilience,” said museum president Dr. Matthew Naylor. “Displaying Ada’s art installation in the centennial year of the armistice serves as an appropriate tribute to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.”
At Arlington National Cemetery, a final resting place for many of America’s military heroes outside of Washington in Virginia, there will be a a Presidential Armed Forces Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are expected to join dozens of world leaders in Paris to commemorate the millions who died, including 116,516 Americans. During their visit, Trump and Pompeo are planning to visit American military cemeteries in France and meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The centennial also will mark the launch of the first Paris Peace Forum, an opportunity for world leaders, civil society and international organizations to come together to share ideas on good governance, peace and security.
World War I started in 1914, after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria started a sequence of events that ended in war. The Allies (Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy) fought the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire).
Though the United States was officially neutral for the first two years of the war, it was a key supplier of aid, money and supplies to the Allies. The United States officially entered the war on the side of the Allies in 1917.
In over a year of fighting, approximately 1.4 million Americans deployed to the western front in Europe. The addition of fresh American troops to the front lines is considered decisive and led to the Allied victory.
As President Trump recently said in a presidential proclamation celebrating U.S. veterans and military families, “Generation after generation, men and women have answered the call to defend our country and our freedom, facing danger and uncertainty with uncommon courage.”
To learn more about the United States and World War I, see how American involvement changed the course of the war, saved millions from starvation, propelled women into the workforce, and changed American art.