Early in 2018, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission (WWICC), the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) and Washington National Cathedral, announced a national Bells of Peace campaign — a national bell tolling across the country at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, to mark the centennial of the end of World War I.
After World War I and even today, the tolling of bells became the traditional way to mark someone’s passing.
At the end of World War I, it honored the 116,516 American men and women who died in military service during the War to End All Wars.
Veterans Day (formerly known as Armistice Day until the name was changed by Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954) is observed each year on Nov. 11 to honor living military veterans for their service in the U.S. Armed Forces. This year on Veterans Day, the Bells of Peace will honor them by saluting the end of World War I.
This year, the Bells of Peace has an innovative smartphone app, to help those groups or individuals who want to participate – especially those who do not have access to bells. The new app is free and is available for either Apple or Android platforms.
The app features a built-in countdown timer, a variety of different bell sounds, helpful links to World War I websites, and the ability for people to post photos from their local or personal commemoration.
But beyond the app, the program is designed to commemorate the service and sacrifice of those who served in World War I and all veterans.
More than 350 partner organizations have joined on to the Bells of Peace initiative, including historical societies, military museums, cemeteries, funeral chapels, memorials, the International Order of the Purple Heart, chambers of commerce and more.
In addition, 30 states across America have issued official proclamations supporting the program. The Bells of Peace initiative is also endorsed by the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The initiative calls for all Americans everywhere to toll bells 21 times, at three-minute intervals at 11 a.m. local time Sunday. The 21 tolls are based on the 21-gun salute, symbolizing the nation’s highest honor given at military funerals. Those who served in World War I should have their role in ending World War I appropriately recognized during its 100th anniversary.
We hope those who have bells in official houses of worship, schools, institutional and government buildings will participate in this important commemoration.
The Bells of Peace will most certainly be observed in cemeteries, military installations, ships at sea or anywhere that Americans gather to honor their veterans.
Please help commemorate the end of the War to End All Wars by downloading the app or participating in this historic event.
Let’s all #TolltheBell on Sunday, Nov. 11.