Take time to commemorate remarkable anniversary

British infantrymen on the march in 1916 in Northern France during the First World War

British infantrymen on the march in 1916 in Northern France during the First World War

First published in Opinion

OVER the past seven months, we have become increasingly gripped by the centenary of the First World War.

All around the UK, people have been marking, or planning to mark, the occasion in a host of different ways - from special church services and concerts to plays, talks and exhibitions.

But the centenary will have an enhanced significance on Monday when the nation commemorates the precise day in 1914 when Britain declared war on Germany following its invasion of Belgium.

Across the land, people will be symbolically turning off their lights from 10pm to 11pm - leaving on just a single light or candle for a shared moment of reflection to mark the annivesary day.

And here, in the former county of Westmorland, there is much to reflect upon.

As can be seen in the third of the Gazette’s special First World War supplements this week, Westmorland soldiers were to pay a heavy price for their part in the conflict, particularly in 1916 - said to be the worst year of the war for casualties.

In Kendal alone, the town recorded a third of its entire war losses in just five months of that year.

It was supposed to be ‘the war to end all wars’ - but tragically that was not to be. Within a generation we were fighting the Second World War. And sadly the lessons of conflict are still not being learned.

The current fighting in Gaza, Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine is a worrying reminder that human propensity for war lies just below the surface of what we consider to be a civilised world.

Yet, as many of the moving stories in the Gazette’s four-part Great War series reveal, essential humanity is still capable of shining through such conflicts.

War is by its very nature is a destructive, divisive state - but it is also capable of uniting families, communities and nations.

Such unity will be reflected on Monday when villagers and townsfolk around the UK come together to commemorate what is a remarkably special anniversary.

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