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Harper marks 100th anniversary of WWI, critical conflict in Canadian history

The dates of the First World War are displayed on the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday July 30, 2014. The Canadian government will commemorate the war on Monday Aug 4, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War today.

Harper will visit the National War Memorial on Parliament Hill at 11:11 a.m., and then deliver remarks at the nearby Canadian War Museum overlooking the Ottawa River.

Canada went to war a century ago when Britain declared war against Germany.

In all, about 620,000 Canadians enlisted during the war and about 419,000 went overseas. About 60,000 would never come home.

The war was considered a turning point in Canadian history, when the country shed its colonial mindset to become a nation in its own right.

The successes of Canadian soldiers on battlefields that included Ypres, Vimy and Passchendaele spurred a deep sense of national pride and a belief that Canada could stand on its own, separate from Britain, on the international stage.