28 August, 2014: The passing of one hundred years since the start of the First World War has launched numerous commemorative events across Europe. The most publicised and public of these have occurred in France and the United Kingdom. Many revolve around significant days and singular memorial celebrations, but there is also opportunity to engage with this most significant of modern European centenaries.
Educators and top school travel companies agree this is a unique year to plan a school tour to a WW1 landmark.
Poppies at the Tower of London and a Memorial at Notre Dame de Lorette
In the U.K. the Lights Out event and a candle-lit vigil concluded a day of remembrance marking 100 years from the day when Britain entered the war. Meanwhile, British royalty and political leaders travelled to St Symphorien Military Cemetery near Mons, Belgium for a special twilight ceremony. While these formal occasions mark significant days during the 1914-1918 conflict, which left 17 million civilians and military personal dead, there is also an opportunity for students on a school tour to visit the Tower of London and consider the centenary. A special installation has seen 888,246 ceramic poppies placed at the dry moat, one for each solider who died for Britain and the colonies.
Meanwhile, in France and Belgium, students have the chance to extend their excellent tours of the trenches, fields, and museums at Ypres, Verdun and the Somme. They can visit the Memorial at Notre Dame de Lorette, to be inaugurated on November 11, which is coupled with a great collection or original war documents by the Centenary Mission 14-18. All in all, there is simple no better year for students to learn about this most sombre and influential war, and they should not miss visiting these commemorative sites.
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