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A Tale of Two Commemorations to 100 Years-ago

On this date 100 years-ago, Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip assassinated heir to the Austria-Hungary empire Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. That event set in motion World War One. A Brief chronological look back at some key events of that trenched war:

June 28, 1914: Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie are assassinated in Sarajevo.

July 28, 1914: Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia.

August 1, 1914: Germany declares war on Russia.

August 3, 1914: Germany declares war on France.

August 4, 1914: The United Kingdom(UK) declares war on Germany after Germany invades Belgium.

August 6, 1914: Serbia declares war on Germany.

April 22, 1915: The Second Battle of Ypres when Germany first use poison gas.

July 1, 1916: The Battle of the Somme where tanks are first introduced to the battlefield.

April 6, 1917: The United States(US) declares war on Germany

June 28, 1919: The Treaty of Versailles ends WWI.

To mark the event of the tragic war 100-years-ago, today Bosnia hosted cultural and sporting events including a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in commemoration of WWI, as reported by the BBC. But some Serbians and Bosnian Serbs boycotted today's official events which they accused of incriminating Serbs. 

Yesterday Serbs in Bosnia unveiled a statute of Gavrilo Princip in eastern Sarajevo. Many consider Princip a national hero in the Balkans and they credit him with ending years of occupation of the Balkans by the Austrian-Hungarian empire.

While Austria's president Heinz Fischer attended the commemorative concert by the Vienna Philharmonic that featured music like Haydn's Emperor Quartet dating back to the days of grandeur of the Hapsburgs, many Bosnians flocked to the eastern town of Visegrad where actors re-enacted the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife while the Belgrade Philharmonic played Vivaldi.

The two contrasting commemorations of 100 years ago signify the socio-political tide then and now. The past 100 years is ripe with events and actions by people against occupation and against authoritarianism and tyranny. Many forms have been taken as people demand self determination, freedom and equality. And 1914 reminds us that empires are not desirable. Unfortunately, it took another World War before this fact was underscored.