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World War One Remembered
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Old 08-04-2014
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Default World War One Remembered







First World War Ceremonies
Bear Testimony to
The "Power of Reconciliation"



By Caroline Davies - Monday 4 August 2014 07.03 EDT


Poppies grow in a Flanders field in Passchendaele, Belgium, as dawn breaks on the
centenary of the first world war. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Prince William honors Belgians amid global tributes to millions who died in the years after war broke out 100 years ago today

International leaders, royalty and families of the fallen have united in the UK and in Belgium to mark 100 years since Britain entered the first world war.

The day of commemorations culminates with lights across Britain being turned off for an hour up to 11pm, at which time a single candle at Westminster Abbey will be doused to mark the exact moment a century ago that the country declared war on Germany. The ritual is to evoke the famous observation of the then foreign secretary, Edward Grey: "The lamps are going out all over Europe".


Flowers are placed around the Grave of the Unknown Warrior before a candlelight

vigil for the first world war at Westminster Abbey in London.
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

It is a day of reconciliation, silent reflection, candlelit vigils, wreath laying, gun salutes and the strains of the Last Post as countless ceremonies are held.

In the UK, dignitaries from across the Commonwealth gathered in Glasgow Cathedral at 10am, including the Prince of Wales, the prime minister, David Cameron, and Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, to join a congregation of 1,400.

As he entered the cathedral, where a poppy was placed on every seat, Cameron spoke of how the first world war had "profoundly changed our world". Nearly every family, and every community was affected, he said. "Almost a million British people were lost in this war, it's right that almost 100 years on we commemorate it, we think about it, and we mark it properly."


Prince Charles and David Cameron leave Glasgow Cathedral after the service to
mark the centenary of the first world war.
Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

But, along with the terrible loss of life and suffering, the war also changed the world for better, he said. "The emancipation of women, the fact that women then got the vote, participated more in the workplace, there were changes in medicine, massive improvements in our world – all those things are worth remembering and that's why, as a government and as a country, we should be refurbishing our war memorials, and we are," he said.

In Belgium, whose invasion by Germany lit the touchpaper that plunged Europe into four years of darkness and the most destructive warfare the world has seen, government leaders and royalty gathered in Liege.
Reduced to rubble, the city was awarded the prestigious French Legion d'Honneur.

At the Allies' War Memorial of Cointe, overlooking the city, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and the French president, François Hollande, to welcome the German president, Joachim Gauk.

Belgium had been the first battleground of the war, said Hollande, offering "solid resistance" in Liege, with "deadly days" to follow.


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sit with French president François Hollande
at the first world war ceremony at the Allies' Memorial in Cointe, Belgium.
Photograph: Splash News/Corbis

Prince William praised Belgium and its people "whose resistance was as gallant as their suffering was great".

"Your great sacrifice and your contribution to eventual victory was pivotal," he said. "Belgium's resistance in 1914 allowed the Allies to re-group and draw up the battle lines which became the infamous trenches. These trenches have left an indelible scar on your land – they speak of the horrors of war, but also of your forebears' courage."

William thanked the nation "on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, head of the Commonwealth, thank you for the honor you do us all".

He said the current events in Ukraine testified to the fact that "instability continues to stalk our continent", but the presence of former foes at the ceremony "bears testimony to the power of reconciliation".

"We were enemies more than once in the last century, and today we are friends and allies. We salute those who died to give us our freedom. We will remember them."

During the ceremony a girl, symbolizing the passing on of remembrance for future generations, released a white balloon as a sign of peace and reconciliation, along with thousands of other balloons in the colors of the flags of other countries invited to the commemoration.

Belgium's King Philippe watches a girl release a white 'peace' balloon at a first

world war ceremony in Liege.
Photograph: Bruno Fahy/AFP/Getty Images

Later on Monday the duke and duchess will join 500 guests, including Cameron and Prince Harry, at a twilight ceremony at St Symphorien military cemetery in nearby Mons.

British commemorations will culminate at Westminster Abbey, when the flame of a single oil lamp at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior will be extinguished at 11pm, the exact moment of the declaration of war. It will be the finale of a candlelit vigil at the abbey, one of many being held at churches and war memorials throughout the country.

During the vigil, to be broadcast on BBC2, more than 1,000 candles held by the congregation will be slowly extinguished. The candle on the tomb, which has been a powerful focus of prayers for peace since the unknown soldier was moved from a battlefield cemetery in northern France on Armistice Day in 1920, will be put out last by the Duchess of Cornwall, representing the Queen who is marking the anniversary at Craithie Kirk, near Balmoral.

The Paschal Candle alone will remain alight, as all over Britain lights will be turned off in homes, offices and public buildings, with each leaving on just a single light or candle.


Red ceramic poppies fill the Tower of London moat to commemorate the fallen of
world war 1 in Paul Cummins' art installation, Blood Swept Lands and
Seas of Red.
Photograph: Paul Brown/Rex

The abbey service will feature 1914 poetry readings, the author and broadcaster Sebastian Faulks reading from his novel Birdsong, and the performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, written in 1914.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, said: "This vigil will bring into focus our national remembrance of the centenary of the first world war … As together, in the abbey, in cathedral and churches across the nation and through the media of television, we reflect on the impact of the beginning of the war, may we collectively resolve to continue to strive for peace, justice and freedom throughout the world."

SOURCE

Ed Note: What is so often ignored... The flawed and unfair provisions of Treaty of Versailles were so revengeful and inept that Historians concede it was indeed the singular most influential cause of World War Two.
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