Nov. 11 will mark 100 years since the end of World War I, the war that was supposed to end all wars. On Nov. 11, 1918, leaders from Germany, Britain and France gathered near the French city of Compiègne to sign the armistice to officially end the conflict that had claimed more 16 million lives in four years.
This weekend, around 80 world leaders will arrive in Paris for a series of events, culminating in a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe. That ceremony will focus on remembering those who died instead of celebrating a victory in a war.
"The point of the commemoration is to honor the memory of the poilus, the French soldiers, and all the soldiers who fought in World War I," an Élysée official told The Washington Post in October.
French President Emmanuel Macron started the commemoration early, crisscrossing France and visiting numerous WWI memorial sites, including the Notre Dame de Lorette cemetery pictured above.
Macron has used his tour of Western Front battlefields and memorial sites in the lead up to the anniversary to decry the rise of nationalism, both in Europe and abroad. "I'm struck by the resemblance between the moment we're now living, and the period between the world wars," Macron told the newspaper Ouest-France last week.
Nationalism "is rising, the nationalism that demands the closing of frontiers, which preaches rejection of the other. It is playing on fears, everywhere," he told Europe1 radio earlier this week.
Macron's remarks have drawn rebukes for ignoring the differences between European grievances in the 1930s and what they are today — less militaristic and more focused on how immigration is changing society.
The ceremony on Sunday will also mark the kick-off of a three-day peace forum, with an emphasis on how "international cooperation is key to tackling global challenges and ensuring durable peace."
Remembrance activities are also underway in Britain. Perhaps most striking is the Shrouds of the Somme art installation crafted by Rob Heard. On display in Queen Elizabeth Park in east London, 72,396 12-inch shrouded calico figures are laid out in the park to remember the British and Commonwealth servicemen who died in the Somme area of France.
"We see the vast numbers of the dead and read the names on the memorials," Heard told The Telegraph, "but I wanted to try and make sense of the scale of these huge numbers. Each one represents an individual, and that's why each shroud is different."
Heard spent five years making the figures. They will be on display until Nov. 18, at which point they will be sold for £35 ($45), with money from each sale going to various veteran charities.
Red poppies, like the flower seen on a figure in the Shroud of Somme figurine or falling from the ceiling in the image above, are a flower used mainly in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to honor service people who have died in military conflicts. Pins of artificial poppies are worn in the lead up to Armistice Day.
The poppy's use as a symbol of remembrance was inspired by John McCrae's poem "In Flander's Field." The poppies were made and sold by American academic Moina Michael and brought to England by Frenchwoman Anna Guérin. The British Legion distributed 9 million of the poppies in 1921 in the run-up to Armistice Day.