A ceremony was held at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial here to commemorate Veterans Day and Remembrance Day Nov. 11. “Each year we are afforded the opportunity on the 11th day of the 11th month to pause, reflect and pay homage to those who have their lives in the name of freedom and liberty,” said Rear Admiral Thomas Ishee, director of operations for U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. “The site of our remembrance today is stunning in its beauty and humbling in its numbers.” The ceremony included French firefighters and reenactors in French and U.S. World War I-era military uniforms – as well as the reading of a statement by President Trump. Later in the day, dozens of French and American volunteers, including many from the Stuttgart military community, participated in a partial luminary to illuminate 3,500 headstones in preparation to illuminate the entire cemetery in September 2018 – the centennial of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Involving 1.2 million American Soldiers, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive is the largest offensive in U.S. military history as well as the bloodiest battle of World War I for the American Expeditionary Force. Beginning on Sept. 26, 1918, the offensive lasted 47 days and was part of the Hundred Days Offensive that ended the war on Nov. 11, 1918, with the Armistice of Compiegne. In all, 26,000 Americans lost their lives in the offensive. Today, Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery covers 130.5 acres and is the final resting place of the largest number of fallen American service members in Europe with 14,246 headstones -- most of whom died in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Throughout the world, November 11 is a holiday observed in different ways. The U.S. observes Veterans Day, honoring all those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces living or dead. Meanwhile, countries such as France, England and Belgium observe Remembrance Day in honor of the end of World War I. While the U.S. originally observed Armistice Day, a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks sought to make the holiday include all U.S. veterans and petitioned then Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to help officially change the holiday. It was not until June 1, 1954, nine years after Weeks proposed the idea, that Armistice Day became the Veterans Day observed in the U.S. to this day. “As I look out over the markers of the brave men and women interred here, I recall the words of President Abraham Lincoln. His words ring true for those of us here today and for our fallen sisters and brothers: ‘The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here,’” Ishee concluded.