Today is Veteran’s Day, the day World War I ended almost one hundred years ago. One place that honors those who fought in this war and other battles is the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. This arch rises above the middle of the city and pays tribute to the brave souls who went to battle for their country.
At the end of World War I, on November 11, 1918, an “unknown soldier” from the Verdun battlefield was carried to the arch. This soldier rests today beneath an eternal flame lit in a ceremony in 1923. The flame has not gone out since.
It’s fitting that you can climb the interior steps and emerge on top of the arch to view the city. Here is the Champs Elysees, the heart of the city, thriving after coming through wars and occupation. From the Arc you can view other landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower.
The Arc de Triomphe was one of the structures of this elegant city that was fit with explosives during WWII. The order to blow it up was disobeyed. The Arc remains as a symbol of freedom. Every day, people stand in its shadows and say a silent prayer of thanks to those named and unnamed soldiers who gave so much.