The two traveled separately from most of the rest of the leaders attending the ceremony, who met up first at the Elysee Palace with French President Emmanuel Macron before making their way to the ceremony.
En route to the event, French police tackled two topless protesters who were sprinting toward the president’s vehicle, “The Beast,” but it was unclear whether the president and first lady were able to see them.
As their motorcade pulled up to the Arc in the pouring rain, church bells chimed across the city, marking the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the time of the cessation of hostilities in World War I.
There was a series of readings and songs memorializing the end of the First World War, with more than 60 leaders from countries around the world standing together before departing for a lunch together at the Elysee Palace.
During a speech in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base of the Arc de Triomphe, Macron delivered a direct rebuke of nationalism, warning the leaders gathered that a “fascination for withdrawal, isolationism” contributed to the events that caused the Great War.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.”
Trump has recently brushed off criticism over identifying himself as a “nationalist,” arguing that it’s merely him advocating for putting “America first” in the actions he takes as president.
“By saying, ‘Our interests first, who cares about the others,’ we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values,” Macron said.
During his first and only extensive public remarks during his two-day trip at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial, President Trump did not respond to Macron’s comments, instead stressing French and American unity during World War I.
“The American and French patriots of World War I embody the timeless virtues of our two republics: honor and courage, strength and valor love and loyalty, grace and glory,” Trump said. “It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended and to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin was in attendance at the lunch following the Arc de Triomphe ceremony, and Trump had said that if the two meet during their time here it would likely be for just a brief interaction at the palace.
Upon arriving at the Arc de Triomphe, Putin made his way over to Trump and the first lady and shook both of their hands. He also delivered a thumbs up before taking his spot on the risers alongside the other leaders.
Trump rankled some feathers in Paris on Friday when he decided to skip a memorial event at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial. He cited the rain grounding his helicopter as the reason for canceling the visit.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry ripped the president on Twitter, saying, “Those veterans the president didn’t bother to honor fought in the rain, in the mud, in the snow – & many died in trenches for the cause of freedom. Rain didn’t stop them & it shouldn’t have stopped an American president.”
During his speech at the Suresnes Cemetery, the president joked with several World War II veterans in attendance who were sitting under a shelter as he spoke during a light rain.
“You look so comfortable up there under cover while we are getting drenched,” Trump joked. “You’re very smart people.”
Trump called the cemetery visit the “highlight” of his trip. He is scheduled to arrive back in Washington Sunday evening.