PRAYERS, songs and readings were heard by candlelight in a special service at Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral last night.
The vigil, from 8pm to 9pm, to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War was attended by hundreds of people. It followed a short remembrance service at the St Aldate’s cathedral.
Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, who gave the blessing, said ahead of the service: “This is a time of serious reflection on what we owe that generation and what we learn from those four savage years.
“The human cost was immense and scars Europe to this day. I hope we learn that war and violence is always a tragic failure and an appalling way to deal with difference.”
Among those in the congregation was Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth.
He said: “It is a time of reflection and to remember all those who lost their lives during the First World War.
“We have to do everything to ensure it never happens again.”
Verger Christopher Waterhouse extinguishes the candles as the readings are made
The Conservative said after the service he would light a candle at his home, adding: “It is a small gesture for the ultimate sacrifice that the men and women gave during that period.”
Following the service, the cathedral porch and chapel were left open for visitors to light candles.
Diocesan Canon Angela Tilby said: “It was important it was a poignant service. There are people here whose parents, grandparents and family members are still scarred by the First World War.”
Military chaplain the Rev (Squadron Leader) Alasdair Nicoll, based at RAF Benson, said it was important to remember those killed in all wars. He said: “It is just a very important time to mark the start of what was meant to be the war to end all wars.”
Bettina Lewington, 73, from Kidlington, said her father Reginald Gibbs was a Colour Sergeant in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the 1920s and ’30s. She said: “So many lost their lives and we wouldn’t be here today without them. We have a lot to be thankful for.”
Knitters join peace event
Knitters, singers and poets came together in Bonn Square yesterday for a peace event bringing together commemorations for the First World War centenary, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
As part of the event, the Wool Against Weapons project – an anti-nuclear weapons group in Oxford and across the UK – knitted a section of The Human Peace Scarf – a pink scarf long enough to stretch the eight-mile distance between the two nuclear weapons factories at Burghfield and Aldermaston.
Organiser Nuala Young said: “We must commemorate those who died but remember that war is not inevitable. Diplomacy could have prevented the First World War.”
Joining the knitters at the event were the choral group, Sea Green Singers, and members of the public reciting pieces from war poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.
I was fortunate that my grandfather fought in and returned from WW1 to have a long and happy life. I think about the millions of people whose parent or grandparent made the ultimate sacrifice and will never have similar conversations to the ones I had.
leader Ian Hudspeth
It is important we work towards peace. It is important we remember what happened 100 years ago and respect those who lost their lives. But we should also remember all those who have died in wars since then and continue to die today
Dr Hojjat Ramzy, Imam and director of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre
I think it’s a very poignant moment. It reflects on those who suffered terribly 100 years ago – whether they were conscripted or stayed at home – and the soldiers and civilians who have suffered around the world ever since
Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam
For me as someone who studied history and visited the battlefields, I can still see the legacy that the war left in Europe today. It made us more cautious, our attitudes have shifted, and we have become more war weary and sympathise with the soldiers.
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