US President Obama to commemorate First World War with King Philippe on visit to Belgium

Posted on on 24 March 2014
Share |

President Barack Obama will travel to Belgium this week, where he will attend a wreath-laying ceremony in Flanders to commemorate the First World War.

America entered the conflict in 1917 on the side of the Entente, after Germany's attempt to form an anti-American alliance with Mexico. Other issues, including Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare on neutral shipping, also influenced America's entry.

President Obama is in Europe to attend the G7 meeting at The Hague today (Monday 24th March), as well as a series of bilateral meetings with European and Asian leaders.

On Wednesday, he will meet with Belgium's King Philippe and Prime Minister Di Rupo. After attending a private meeting with them both, President Obama will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Flanders and then tour the battlefield.

The President's Press Secretary, Jay Carney, described Obama's upcoming visit to Flanders as a "very resonant moment for the people of Belgium, people of the United States and Europe as well".

Mr. Carney also acknowledged 2014 as the "centennial anniversary of World War I", which he described as "a very critical milestone in the history of Europe, the United States and the world".

Centennial Commission

Although America has formed its own Centennial Commission to oversee plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War, there have not been any major announcements by the US Government on how it plans to mark the anniversary.

Several commentators have pointed to a disinterest and lack of knowledge about the war in general in America, with the onus being on the Second World War, Korean War and Vietnam War.

It is also expected that commemorations will focus on the Centenary of America's entry into the conflict in 2017.

Source: Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

Images courtesy of the White House; Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News