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Young and old mark city's Armed Forces Day
PEOPLE stood with heads silently bowed in Centenary Square, Bradford, at the annual drumhead service yesterday - one hundred years to the day since the shooting that plunged Europe into the First World War.
Decorated veterans in wheelchairs joined with flag-waving toddlers in pushchairs to attend the colourful military parade of standard bearers and marching bands.
Dozens of people turned out for the event, the grey skies adding poignancy to the commemoration of June 28, 1914, the day Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, sparking a chain of events that led to the outbreak of 'The Great War'.
The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Mike Gibbons, welcomed everyone to the service, marking the culmination of a series of events across the district to mark Armed Forces Week.
The Reverend Canon Sam Corley, Canon Precentor at Bradford Cathedral, said: "Today we honour our veterans who gave their best to serve and protect their country."
He paid tribute to the "special people" of Bradford who fought tyranny and oppression, and led prayers supported by the Chaplain to the Sea Cadets, Jon Howard.
The Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Roger Whittaker, reflected on a date that changed the world.
The fatal shooting of the Archduke and his wife Sophie plunged Europe into its bloodiest ever conflict, with the terrible loss of so many men fromBradford.
The service included the Exhortation and The Kohima Epitaph, each given by a member of the Royal British Legion, Bradford Central Branch.
The Last Post was sounded, followed by a two minute silence, in which standards were lowered.
The event included marquees with fund-raising stalls for military charities and good causes, including Help for Heroes and Remploy, that helps ex-servicemen with disabilities into civilian jobs.
Normandy veteran Gerry Briscoe braved the unseasonably chilly weather to attend the service.
Mr Briscoe, 89, was 19 when he took part in the D-Day Landings on June 6, 1944.
He and his wife Jean, who was at the service with him, celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary last Monday.
Believed to be among the last of the D-Day veterans in Bradford, Mr Briscoe said: "I am proud to be here. I have never yet missed one of these services."
The crowds were entertained by the Band of the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. Resplendent in their scarlet coats, they played popular songs from the war years, including Pack Up Your Troubles and the famous marching tune, It's a Long Long Way to Tipperary.
A climbing wall proved popular with youngsters and there was a line-up of military vehicles.
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