New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday inaugurated the Centenary Commemoration of the First World War by laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti here.
Writing in the visitors' book, he said, "On the centenary commemoration of World War I, I join my fellow countrymen in paying homage to the brave and valiant sons of mother India, who laid down their lives in the line of duty. I am sure that our great nation will continue to draw inspiration from the sacrifice of these brave hearts."
The commemoration is in memory of the 1.5-million Indian soldiers who fought in the war and the over 74,000 of them who made the supreme sacrifice and whose names are etched in stone on the pillars of India Gate.
The period 2014 to 2018 is being commemorated as the Centenary of the First World War.
Wreaths were also laid by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the three Service chiefs, French Army chief Gen. Jean-Pierre Bosser and diplomatic representatives from 14 countries.
Gen. Bosser, Chief of Staff of the French Army, is here at the invitation of his Indian counterpart, Gen. Dalbir Singh.
This forms part of the French government's tribute to the sacrifice of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives for France's freedom during World War I, the French embassy said in a statement.
Between 1914 to 1918, around 90,000 Indian soldiers fought on French soil, of whom more than 8,500 perished.
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, which took place in March, 1915, remains etched in our memory as their most heroic feat, said the statement from the French embassy.