Bridport churchbells to commemorate end of First World War

BRIDPORT — Members from two neighboring congregations in Bridport will join forces to ring a church bell together at 11 a.m. this Sunday, Nov. 11, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the armistice ending the First World War.
One flight of stairs up from the sanctuary inside Bridport Congregational Church is where the rope will be tugged to cause the church bell to ring 21 times at 11 o’clock. Congregants from Hope Community Fellowship will walk the short distance from 52 Middle Road, where they meet for worship services, to Bridport Congregational Church at 55 Middle Road to join in with the bell ringing.
Jeff Kauffman pastors Hope Community Fellowship and Tim Franklin is the pastor of Bridport Congregational Church.
The World War One Centennial Commission — along with the Society of the Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the National Cathedral, The American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars — has coordinated a nationwide bell-tolling on Nov. 11 as a solemn reminder of the sacrifice and service of veterans of the First World War and all military veterans.
“Bells of Peace: A World War One Remembrance” encourages citizens and organizations across the nation to toll bells in their communities 21 times at 11 a.m. local time on Nov. 11.
“I encourage American Legion posts to participate and to encourage participation at local houses of worship, schools, town halls, firehouses, police stations — anywhere people may gather on that day to honor and remember,” says John Monahan, the Legion’s representative on the World War One Centennial Commission.
The nationwide program is designed to honor American men and women who served 100 years ago during World War I, especially the 116,516 who died. The war ended by an armistice agreement between the warring countries at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.
Program director Betsy Anderson calls Bells of Peace a “grassroots effort within communities. What we’re hoping is for people to see this and say, ‘Oh, we have a bell, we could toll it. What else can we do to recognize those veterans who served in World War I?”
The World War 1 Centennial Commission has a page on its website — — where people can find information and tools to conduct a bell tolling, and to meaningfully commemorate the service of their local World War I veterans. The Bells of Peace web page includes links to poetry, music, sacred service options, and more.
World War I took place between summer 1914 and autumn 1918, and is among the deadliest conflicts in world history. The United States officially entered the war on April 6, 1917. Some 4.7 million Americans stepped forward to serve in uniform, of whom 2 million were deployed overseas to fight.
Individuals and organizations are signing up online to participate in the bell tolling and to follow-up after Nov. 11 with photos and video of their service or ceremony. Posts will be added to the commission’s permanent archive.
“It’s a good opportunity to put our veterans’ service in historical context and for people to recognize and commemorate the service and sacrifice of all veterans,” Anderson says.
Congress established the United States World War One Centennial Commission in 2013 to provide education programs, public outreach and commemorative events regarding U.S. involvement in the war. The commission is also authorized to create a new national memorial in Washington, D.C., to honor the men and women who served.
Worldwide, between 15 million and 19 million people died during World War I, and another 23 million were wounded. The industrial age had industrialized death and Europe became the factory floor for new weapons and new means of killing from tanks and airplanes to gas and machine guns.
The war had started in 1914, and the killing continued without let-up until Nov. 11, 1918, when the Allies and the Central Powers signed an armistice that ended the slaughter.
Just about every city, town, and village felt the pain of the war. France alone lost nearly 1.7 million people on the battlefield or by disease. The United Kingdom lost between 860,000 and 1 million. The United States, which entered the conflict on April 6, 1917, lost more than 116,000 service members.
By early November 1918, the Allies broke through on the Western Front. German forces were decisively beaten, and American, British, and French forces were advancing on Germany. The other Central Powers — Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire — had already stopped fighting. Germany signed the armistice in a railroad car in the Forest of Compiegne. It was to take effect Nov. 11, 1918 at 11 a.m. Peace seemed like a miracle to a tired world.
“Bells burst forth in joyful chimes,” began a report in a London newspaper. Big Ben in Westminster tolled long and loud, and its ringing was copied in belfries around the city.
In Paris, people took to the streets with joy and relief. Bells in Paris pealed and people in the city from around the world cheered the end of the fighting that claimed so many lives.
In New York City, the Armistice was at 6 a.m., but New Yorkers still took to the streets. The bells of the city’s great houses of worship rang out. The same thing occurred across the United States.
Armistice Day was supposed to mark the end of the “War to End All Wars.” It is now called “Veterans Day” as Americans honor the veterans of all wars and conflicts.
The United States World War One Centennial Commission wants all Americans to honor the sacrifices of those killed in World War I and participate in the Bells for Peace program on Nov. 11, 2018. At 11 a.m. on that date, retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will oversee the bells of Washington’s National Cathedral tolling 21 times in honor of those lost during World War I. Several thousand communities nationwide will also participate in the program.
To mark the centennial of the end of World War I on Nov. 11, many churches and other organizations in downtown Middlebury will ring their bells this Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, at 11:11 a.m. — the moment the Armistice was signed. Organizers of the bell ringing, led by Dick Wien of New Haven, had as of press time signed up St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Congregational Church of Middlebury, Middlebury United Methodist Church, Town Hall Theater and the Mead Chapel at Middlebury College to participate; more could join.

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