How the na­tion re­mem­bered

Sunderland Echo - - Armistice 100 -

This week the cen­te­nary of the First World War comes to an end. Over the last four years we have joined to­gether to learn more about this im­por­tant part of our his­tory and to re­mem­ber the brave men and women who served or worked on the home front to sup­port the enor­mous na­tional war ef­fort.

Com­mem­o­ra­tions have taken us from the out­break of war in Au­gust 1914, through to the dev­as­tat­ing losses of the Gal­lipoli cam­paign in 1915 and the first day of the Bat­tle of the Somme in 1916. In 2017, we re­mem­bered Pass­chen­daele, the in­fa­mous bat­tle that pro­duced the defin­ing images of the First World War of mud, gas at­tacks and wa­ter­logged trenches.

This year, we started to tell a dif­fer­ent story - the story of the de­ci­sions and de­vel­op­ments that fi­nally led to Al­lied vic­tory. It be­gan with the ap­point­ment of Field Mar­shal Foch as the first Supreme Al­lied Com­man­der on the Western Front. In Au­gust, we were in Amiens to com­mem­o­rate one of the key turn­ing points in the war - a de­ci­sive bat­tle in­volv­ing Bri­tish, Aus­tralian, Cana­dian, French, and US forces. The sub­se­quent Hun­dred Days Of­fen­sive - a four month pe­riod of Al­lied advances - re­sulted in the sign­ing of the Ar­mistice on Novem­ber 11.

It has been an hon­our to play my part in the govern­ment’s cen­te­nary com­mem­o­ra­tions. One hun­dred years on it is still im­por­tant to re­flect on the events that shaped the world we live in today and take time to re­mem­ber all those who made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice and the sac­ri­fice of those whose lives were changed for­ever by their ser­vice.

The in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tion of Com­mon­wealth sol­diers to the war ef­fort must never be for­got­ten. It has been my plea­sure to visit com­mu­nity projects across the UK, and not only those re­mem­ber­ing Bri­tish sol­diers. Most re­cently, I had the hon­our of vis­it­ing the Chat­tri Memo­rial in Brighton, which is ded­i­cated to the In­dian sol­diers who died in the First World War.

As we turn our thoughts to this his­toric day, the Cen­te­nary of the Ar­mistice, we are keen to also give thanks for those who re­turned. Th­ese na­tional mo­ments of com­mem­o­ra­tion have been a poignant trib­ute to the unique gen­er­a­tion who did so much. And through th­ese, I hope we have en­sured that more peo­ple - es­pe­cially young peo­ple - un­der­stand the huge im­pact of the First World War at home and across the world.

Dis­cover events tak­ing place near you com­mem­o­rat­ing Ar­mistice Day by vis­it­ing https://armistice100.org. uk/events/ and share how you will be re­mem­ber­ing and giv­ing thanks to all those who served in the First World War on so­cial me­dia by us­ing #Armistice100

The Ceno­taph, London, Novem­ber 11, 1920

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