By the end, 16million people had been killed and 20million wounded in a war that had devastated and destroyed whole cities. Civilians and soldiers, often from poor backgrounds, paid the terrible price for a battle that was brought on by the rich and powerful rulers of competing imperialist powers...Very few benefited from the killing. It did, however, line the pockets of arms companies and their shareholders.
The World War One Centenary is a time to reflect one of the biggest wastes of human lives in the 20th Century. Why it happened, the lives it destroyed and how future wars can be averted are important lessons for our age. The ceramic poppies at the tower of London - 888,246 of them, each representing an extinguished human life - formed the centre of many moving tributes across the country.
Every day should be Remembrance Day. We should treat our war veterans with respect all year round, honour the military covenant and make sure that those injured or psychologically scarred in the line of duty get the care and medical treatment they deserve. My Party has views on how that should best be achieved, but this is not a time for partisan politics.
On the 11th month of the 11th day of the 11th hour, we will remember our fallen. We also pay tribute to the many men and women who still protect our country, through the skies, on the ground, through the shores and combating planned attacks. We also remember the ladies and gentlemen who have fallen in recent wars.
This swapping back and forth between the horrific and the mundane or even jolly, is not uncharacteristic of common ways of ways coping with chronic trauma: the black humour of a doctors' mess, for example. Humour is known to be an effective coping strategy, associated with a lower risk of post traumatic stress disorder.
What we need to do now is go further... to imagine, and then create, a world without war. With the hideous death-toll in Gaza, the chaos in Syria and Ukraine, the turmoil in Libya, that might seem a long way from the reality of 2014. But the important first step is to say "this is possible", and then to start to plan the actions needed to bring a peaceful world into being.
We remembered too not just those from the First World War, but all wars past and present including those serving right now in Afghanistan and other Operations around the world. And, of course, it's not just the soldiers themselves but the families that give their all in support of those brave men and women.
Countless brave birds served and died with our Allied forces. They crossed battle lines and helped influence key battle decisions by delivering vital messages. These intelligent, gentle birds were the first recipients of the Dickin Medal - animals' Victoria Cross - for contributing to the rescue of thousands of human aviators.
As Randolph Bourne said when writing about World War I in 1918, war is the health of the state. As America's power has grown, so has its propensity for war. Regardless of the debates about the justness or morality of war, the numbers have shown peace to be the exception in America while war has been the rule, making this last century since the start of World War I undeniably a century of warfare.