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Hollande honours French war dead

President says November 11 is a commemoration for "all who have died for France"

President Hollande paid tribute to "all who have died for France" as he took the salute at the Armistice Day parade at the Arc de Triomphe. It marked the first time November 11 has represented more than the First World War armistice.

Standing with two children of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, he recognised the deaths of 13 French troops killed overseas in the past 12 months and their names have been added to the list of French war dead on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Hollande was initially opposed to the move by President Sarkozy to make November 11 a commemoration for all France's war dead but then endorsed the proposal when he took office, adding that it did not take away from other ceremonies.

However, he returned to a more traditional form of ceremony when he dropped the Sarkozy preference for making a speech and spoke only to the two children and their families.

Wearing the Bleuet de France cornflower tribute to the fallen, he said later, in a statement for France 3 television: "November 11 is a remembrance of the Great War, we must never forget those who sacrificed themselves to make us what we are today. Many people remember what they were told by their parents or grandparents, as is my case. So, we will never forget the soldiers of 14-18. And now, a law has been voted and today we honour all those who died for France."

The ceremony was watched by several thousand people at the Etoile and Hollande placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and tended the flame. He also laid a wreath at the monument to students who defied the Vichy regime ban on commemorating the armistice in 1940 and were arrested.
Photo: © dutourdumonde -

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