On 4th August next year it will be exactly 100 years since the outbreak of World War One. Thousands went off to battle, expecting to be home by Christmas, with no idea of the bloodshed and horror that they were going to experience. This week I had the honour of hosting a Westminster Hall debate on nationwide commemorations to mark the Centenary.
During the debate I was able to highlight a project that was conceived at the Royal British Legion Club in Greenhithe. Their campaign aims to distribute poppy seeds for scattering in the local area, that will bloom in time for the commemorations. This campaign was mentioned by the Prime Minister in a speech about the centenary projects and has also seen support from Prince Charles, DEFRA and the Ministry of Defence. Dartford Council has given financial support for the project and numerous schools and other organisations are taking part. Next month the BBC will announce a series of programmes that will cover the centenary of the outbreak of the war plus the most significant battles and finally Armistice Day.
The First World war left 16 million dead and changed Britain. It affected almost every community in this country and across the Commonwealth where thousands died supporting allied forces. It is right therefore that we mark the centenary next year in the form of a commemoration that recognises the mistakes that were made and the lessons learned.
It is particularly important that younger generations recognise the sacrifices that were made and I hope that the commemorations next year ensure that this will happen.