On 04 August 2014, commemorative events will be held in Glasgow, London and Belgium to mark Britain’s entry into the First World War a century earlier – the night Sir Edward Grey famously remarked: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”
While these large scale national events are taking place, we will also see smaller but equally important ceremonies in towns, villages, and households across the UK, as we commemorate a terrible conflict which affected every thread in the fabric of the nation.
The Centenary is a particularly poignant time for The Royal British Legion.
Our charity was born out of the aftermath of the First World War, as veterans’ organisations joined ranks to provide mutual support during the difficult transitional years that followed the Armistice. The red poppy of Flanders, the national symbol of Remembrance and hope for a better world, was also born from that conflict. The act of Remembrance itself, the Cenotaph, and the Two Minute Silence – all are closely associated with our charity as the custodian of Remembrance, and all were brought into being as the nation struggled to come to terms with its First World War losses.
Neither is the Centenary only about the past. As we recall the events of a century ago, we are reminded of the service and sacrifices of the British Armed Forces of today. The work of the Legion in helping Armed Forces families and veterans is as vital today as it was when the Legion was formed, in the aftermath of the First World War.
The Legion will be using the Centenary to engage with a new generation of supporters and to reach out to a broader community of comradeship. We expect that the Centenary will present fresh prospects for our existing supporters and we’re excited that they will be taking the Centenary journey with us. Together, we’ll be taking the opportunity to engage with our families, friends, and communities to remind ourselves, and others, that our mission is just as vital today as it was in the 1920s.
Above all, we want be at the heart of fitting and just commemorations of the events of 1914-1918.
The attached guide is intended to inform you of the Legion’s Centenary plans. It contains our position and key messages on the Centenary along with some of the dates of planned large-scale commemorations. It has snapshots of some of the national activities we will be announcing more fully in coming months – for updates, please refer to www.britishlegion.org.uk/ww1centenary. There is also a section on how you can apply for funds for your own Centenary projects, and a few success stories.
We will be making this guide available in printed form, although a modest press run is planned because we will want to update it from time to time.