The next few days sees the final countdown to the start of the official commemoration of the actual Centenary of the Great War. On this day a hundred years ago German troops were mobilising for the invasion of France which would start the road to war for Great Britain when they passed through Belgium revoking that country’s neutrality, a neutrality safeguarded by Britain and the Treaty Of London. Britain’s upholding of that Treaty led to the declaration of war on 4th August 1914.
The first major event for the start of the British WW1 Centenary on 4th August is a multi-national service of remembrance at St Symphorien Cemetery near Mons, and later that evening the Lights Out event when,
“… everyone in the UK is invited to take part in LIGHTS OUT by turning off their lights from 10pm to 11pm on 4 August, leaving on a single light or candle for a shared moment of reflection.
People can take part in whatever way they choose, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War either individually or by attending one of the many events being organised around the country for a collective experience.”
The Lights Out event has attracted a great deal of public interest and was even featured on the popular BBC Radio 4 drama The Archers, but not everyone has found the idea behind the event appealing. In a Blog post, Professor Gary Sheffield called it a ‘ludicrous gimmick’.
But what is clear the public seem highly engaged with projects like Lights Out and if nothing else it is a way for people to remember the Great War, and the people in their family affected by it, in their own personal way. What it tells us about the Great War remains to be seen.