Few people alive today have any memory of the First World War. Yet from August this year no one in the UK will be able to avoid its commemoration. Organisations across the country are feverishly planning centenary events, and communities are busy building new war memorials or refurbishing and rededicating existing ones.
David Cameron has pledged to spend over £55 million on ‘a truly national commemoration’ that ‘like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, says something about who we are as a people’. This appropriation of First World War memory to enhance patriotic national narratives has been both celebrated and criticised and has once again raised questions regarding the role of military commemoration within contemporary society.