On the eve of WW1, on 4th August 1914, British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey uttered the historical and momentous words "The lamps are going off all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our life time". More than anything this sentiment has come to encapsulate the feeling of the public.
It is fitting then that one hundred years later, Edward Grey's words were given new weight with an act of public remembrance. There were many ways to mark the centenary anniversary of the start of the First World War yesterday. The Great and the Good took part in a ceremony at locations including Westminster Abbey, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff and Mons in Belgium. Other commemorations included 888,246 ceramic poppies flowing around the Tower of London; one for every British and colonial soldier or the 5000 ice statues in Birmingham. All evoke a mixture of sadness, pride and thanks felt by the people of this country for those who fell, but not everyone could take part in this event.
One event that everyone could take part in, was Lights Out from 10pm to 11pm. This was a call from the British Legion for lights to be turned off at 10pm on 4 August 2014 to join together in a national moment of reflection. This was a poignant and moving idea but in today's modern world where electronics infuse every aspect of life, was this possible? How many would actually do it? How many people did take part? Iconic public monuments such as London Bridge, 10 Downing Street, the House of Parliament, Big Ben and the Eden Project were plunged into darkness with only a single candle of reflection left burning. According to the National Grid, figures show that there was a drop of 500 megawatts, around 10pm, in comparison to the same day last year. This is the equivalent of over eight million 60 watt light bulbs being switched off.
For more than a century, such a large number of people share this sentiment, which is a shining example of the gratitude that millions of British feel for those who gave so much for their country.