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World marks Remembrance Day as Russia’s war in Ukraine rages

Across the world, nations paid respect with moments of silence and solemn ceremonies for their fallen soldiers in World War I on Friday.
Although, this year, Remembrance Day (also known as Armistice Day in parts of the world and Veterans Day in the US) was pierced by the rumblings of Russia’s war in Ukraine that showed again, peace is all too often elusive.

Casualties since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 are estimated at around 200,000 and on the continent that already spawned two world wars in little over a century, that gave any of Friday’s reminiscences about the horrors of wars past a poignant ring of the present.

City workers attend a Remembrance Day ceremony at Lloyd's of London, in the City of London, to mark Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of the First World War, Friday, November 11, 2022.
City workers attend a Remembrance Day ceremony at Lloyd’s of London, in the City of London, to mark Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of the First World War, Friday, November 11, 2022. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

“Since 1918 we have marked Armistice Day and paid tribute to the brave men and women who have served to give us peace. Yet as we salute our troops this year, this peace has been shattered by a Russian aggressor,” UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.

“As we honor the war dead of the past, we also remember Ukraine’s fight for freedom today.”

The thought echoed around the globe, starting in Australia and New Zealand, where dawn came first on the anniversary of the November 11, 1918 truce that brought an end to the First World War.

The “Lest we forget” phrase — gold-engraved into the Moruya granite of the Sydney cenotaph — towered atop wreaths and flowers that Australians brought.

People look at a wreaths and other tributes at the cenotaph following Remembrance Day ceremonies in Sydney, Friday, November 11, 2022.
People look at a wreaths and other tributes at the cenotaph following Remembrance Day ceremonies in Sydney, Friday, November 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

“We must always remember the brave men and women who’ve defended our nation at our time of need, who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

Together with soldiers from New Zealand and other parts of the British Commonwealth like Canada and South Africa, Australians joined the 1914-1918 war in Europe to make it the first truly global conflict.

World War I pitted the armies of France, the British empire, Russia and the US against a German-led coalition that included the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. Almost 10 million soldiers died, sometimes tens of thousands on a single day.

A drums and pipes band marches during an Armistice Day ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium, Friday, November 11, 2022.
A drums and pipes band marches during an Armistice Day ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium, Friday, November 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Poppies and other floral wreaths lie, during an Armistice Day ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium, Friday, November 11, 2022
Poppies and other floral wreaths lie, during an Armistice Day ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium, Friday, November 11, 2022 (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

For decades in Europe, the return of such mass carnage seemed impossible, but the scenes from Ukraine’s cities and countryside made all think again.

The day was marked from the smallest cemeteries in Flanders Fields in western Belgium to the Champs Elysees in Paris and countless streets and offices beyond.

City workers at Lloyd’s of London stood, almost with military rigor across six floors of their headquarters, to mark the day.

French President Emmanuel Macron stands at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, as part of the commemorations marking the 104th anniversary of 1918 Armistice, ending World War I, Friday, November 11, 2022 in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron stands at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, as part of the commemorations marking the 104th anniversary of 1918 Armistice, ending World War I, Friday, November 11, 2022 in Paris (Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool via AP)

In Paris, French president Emmanuel Macron laid a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe.

Later, Macron will attend the annual Paris Peace Forum, leading a debate on how Russia’s war in Ukraine is testing the ideas of universalism and multilateralism that flourished after the world wars of the last century.

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