U.K. Set to Turn Out Lights as Europe Remembers World War I DeadThomas Penny
Britons are being encouraged to put out their lights between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. tonight to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
Representatives of more than 50 countries, including Prince William, traveled to Liege, Belgium, for an event to mark the occasion and services are being held at Glasgow Cathedral and London’s Westminster Abbey to remember those who died in the conflict between 1914 and 1918.
“When you think that almost every family, almost every community was affected, almost a million British people were lost in this war, it is right that even 100 years on, we commemorate it, we think about it and we mark it properly,” Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC television today before traveling to a military cemetery in Belgium for an event to mark the day.
The anniversary takes place amid a resurgence in great-power rivalry as European nations clash with Russia over President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Ukraine. The Royal British Legion, a charity that supports former service personnel, has asked people to turn out their lights and display a single candle to mark the moment 100 years ago when Britain declared war on Germany.
The declaration was made at 11 p.m. after Germany rejected a British ultimatum over the invasion of Belgium.
“There was a cause that young men rallied to at the beginning of the war that Europe shouldn’t be dominated by one power, that a small country like Belgium shouldn’t be simply snuffed out,” Cameron said.
The candle gesture is reference to then Foreign Secretary Edward Grey’s comment on the eve of war.
“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime,” he said.