U.S. President Barack Obama has marked the first Veterans Day of his
presidency with the traditional wreath-laying ceremony and speech at
Arlington National Cemetery near Washington.
The tradition honors Americans who have lost their lives in battle, and
also the men and women who currently serve in the U.S. military.
At the ceremony Wednesday, the president said there is no tribute or
praise that can match the sacrifice made by the men and women of the
U.S. armed forces.
The observance is one of many in the United States and around the world
to mark the 91st anniversary of the cease-fire agreement that ended the
battles of World War One. That agreement officially was reached on "the
11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month."
The allied powers, which included France, Britain, Russia and the
United States, defeated Germany and its smaller allies in the so-called
"war to end all wars" that shattered Europe.
This day is known in Europe and elsewhere as Armistice or Remembrance Day.
In London, Britain's Queen Elizabeth led a service at Westminster Abbey
to pay tribute to the country's war dead, marked by a traditional
two-minutes of silence.
The ceremony was the first without Britain's last remaining trio of
World War One veterans living in the country. William Stone, Henry
Allingham and Harry Patch all died this year. The last remaining
British veteran of World War One is 108-year-old Claude Choules, who
lives in Perth, Australia.
In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela
Merkel participated in a ceremony at France's Tomb of the Unknown
Soldier during an early morning service. Ms. Merkel is the first German
leader to observe Armistice Day in France.
The holiday was known as Armistice Day in the United States until 1954,
when then-President Dwight Eisenhower signed a measure changing it to
Veterans Day. It was changed at the urging of veterans' service
organizations that wanted the day to pay tribute to U.S. veterans of
Veterans Day comes as the United States continues fighting wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan. President Obama is reviewing the U.S. strategy in
Afghanistan, and is considering a request from the top U.S. and NATO
commander in Afghanistan for what is reported to be up to 40,000