UK's Special Representative for the Centenary highlights commemoration plans

Posted on on 15/03/2013
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The UK Government's Special Representative for the Centenary, Dr Andrew Murrison, has told a conference that the British Government has "real commitment" to the commemorations - and he talked about the importance of learning the lessons from the war.

Dr Murrison was speaking at the Schools and the Great War Centenary Conference - held on Thursday 14th March 2013 at Wellington College in Berkshire.

Other speakers at the conference included Professor Sir Hew Strachan from Oxford University and Peter Francis from the Commonwealth War Grave Commission.

Dr Murrison reflected on the celebrations which greeted the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and the London Olympics in 2012 and stated that "2014-18 will offer something altogether rather more sombre. It will offer commemoration, it will offer reflection".

The rationale behind the commemoration of the conflict was explained by Dr. Murrison: "It is important to be explicit about why we are commemorating four years of war... the sheer scale of 1914-18 and British public sentiment demand a special approach".

"Unless we have a grasp of the past, we will not understand the present, or be able to spot the warning signs of political and societal behaviour in time to deal with them.

Dr. Murrison continued that the prospect of dismissing the Centenary "would, in my view, breach the military covenant and be a gross betrayal of our duty to remember".

Dr. Murrison continued to discuss the importance of the Centenary as an international commemoration, particularly within the Commonwealth of Nations.

Furthermore, an important aspect of Government plans to commemorate the conflict focus on the role of individuals, institutions and non-government organisations in which "central government must provide leadership and encouragement, it must facilitate and coordinate, but it must not dictate".

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