Yesterday saw soldiers in full military dress replicating the uniforms of World War one troops who fought in the Battle of the Somme all over the country. It was a touching tribute to what was the centenarian anniversary of the battle which saw the largest casualties in one battle in war to date. Thousands of volunteers took part, each representing a soldier who lost their life that first day, 1st July 1916. Commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK's Art Programme, the work itself was created by Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with the directer of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris.
The work, we're here because we're here saw volunteers in world war one uniform appear all over the country at railway stations, shopping centres and other various locations. The volunteers that walked the streets unexpectedly represented the 19,240 who were killed on that first day of battle. There were fifteen regiments represented, the soldiers were silent throughout the day, simply handing you a card with the details of the soldier they represented before moving on. The only words that were spoken were to sing the song we're here because we're here to the tune of Auld Lang Syne which was incredibly haunting to listen to and when they broke into song in the middle of West Quay Shopping Centre I sobbed. It was such a beautiful tribute and the experience was incredible, you couldn't help not weeping a tear as the full scale of what these men went through became a realisation.
The work run the length of the country between 7am - 7pm. What I loved most about this was that it was brought to people, people couldn't avoid it and everyone who witnessed what happened yesterday was automatically involved. The Battle of the Somme is such an incredible piece of British history and it's something I personally believe people should be aware of. More often with work you have to go and see it somewhere unlike what took place yesterday as part of #WeAreHere campaign which was seen everywhere. It was amazing to see the hashtag trending all day, to see people's reactions to what they saw and hear and read their thoughts. Social media is a powerful thing and by 8am yesterday the country was talking and sharing photos and videos including how they felt and more. It was a haunting but touching experience to witness and be a part of.
Please do share you posts and thoughts if you witnessed this yesterday using the hashtag as I would love to see what you saw. Yesterday's memorial will be something that will also go down in history, something to bring the country together at a time we all need it most.