SOURCE: Visit Flanders

Visit Flanders

October 17, 2014 19:01 ET

Thousands of Lights to Commemorate WWI Heroes

Almost 9,000 Torches Lit Up the Front Line to Commemorate the Heroes of WWI in Flanders Fields a Century After WWI; The Event Initiated a 4 Year Commemoration Program to Remember the Stories of Millions of Victims; The Names of the 600,000 Civilians and Soldiers Who Lost Their Lives in Belgium During WWI Were Collected and Will Be Honored Through Several Activities

NIEUWPOORT, BELGIUM--(Marketwired - October 17, 2014) - Between 7.00 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. on Friday 17 October, the front line of late 1914 in the westernmost part of Flanders, Belgium was lit up during the 'Light Front'. Spanning 84 km, from the beach at Nieuwpoort to 'The Memorial to the Missing' in Ploegsteert, the front line was lit up by a human chain of 8,400 torchbearers. Every ten metres, a participant was holding a torch. International dignitaries, national and regional authorities together with the Royal Couple and thousands of visitors participated in this appealing commemoration.

For many of the visitors, the serene atmosphere in which this massive and impressive remembrance event took place was extremely moving.

Its success can be attributed to years of intense preparation by the provincial government and, above all, the 8,400 torchbearers together with more than 1,600 volunteers. The Province could also rely on the support of the Flemish and Federal Governments with critical cooperation with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Volksbund in Belgium and several local partners.

600,000 names of victims were displayed

Besides the thousands of torchbearers along the 84 km route and the artistic fire installations on nine locations, 'Light Front' also displayed the 600,000 names of victims on different monuments.

The 'Light Front' scores at home and abroad

250 journalists from around the globe followed the event locally. The 'Light Front' attracted international interest not just from the media, but also among the torchbearers. Besides the international young people who launched the 'Light Front', many foreign nationalities participated in this special event. Torchbearers from Great Britain, Denmark, France, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands joined the action. In fact, a total of 21 different nationalities were registered.

What happened in Flanders Fields -- and what's happening now?

In 1914, the German army marched through Belgium en route to France, the start of a war that would affect many nations. The majority of the country was occupied. Only the 'Westhoek' part of Flanders, named now Flanders Fields, remained free from occupation, and was part of the Western Front. For four years, the region was the site of a hopeless trench war, with countless victims. For four long years Flanders Fields was the scene of WWI. The landscape of the region still tells the story of the war. It contains hundreds of monuments and cemeteries which have great historical significance for the people of many nations. There are numerous museums which explain in an interactive way all the aspects of the conflict: the battles, daily life, etc. WWI was the first truly global conflict. Victims from more than 50 countries are buried in Belgium, including Americans and Canadians. Certain spots in Flanders have forever been engraved in the collective memory of other countries and regions. President Obama visited the American cemetery in Waregem earlier this year.

For more information about the places to visit and the events view www.flandersfields1418.com and www.gonewest.be -- Watch/Download pictures of the light front on www.flickr.com/visitflanders (Choose the album Flanders Fields)

VISITFLANDERS is the official tourism organization for Flanders and Brussels. A region famous for its rich art and heritage, amazing gastronomy, fashion and cycling. The organization is part of the Flemish Government.

Flanders, Belgium is located in Western Europe. Bordering the North Sea between France and the Netherlands, Belgium is in comparison about the size of Maryland. The majority of West European capitals are within 1000 km (650 miles) from Brussels.

The northern part of Belgium is known as Flanders, the inhabitants are called Flemings and speak Dutch. All Flemish towns are brimming with quaint medieval squares, tree-lined canals, gorgeous architectural facades, world class museums and friendly outdoor cafes perfect for sipping on the local brews.The scenic Flemish countryside is painted with green hills and winding roads bordered by proud farms and peaceful canals. Cities in Flanders exhibit their charm with cobblestone streets, beguinages, gothic cathedrals and artistic treasures of internationally renowned paintings from the Flemish primitives to Breughel and Rubens and such modern masters as Permeke, Ensor and Magritte.But there is a lot more to Flemish cities than just architecture and history. You can also enjoy your time discovering the colorful open-air markets, shopping galleries, breweries, European nightlife and stylish restaurants overflowing with local culinary delights.

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