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Bells will ring 11 times at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month across Arkansas to salute 100 years since the fighting of World War I ceased.

More than 71,800 soldiers from the Natural State served in the Great War, nearly a quarter of whom were black. About 2,180 died, either from illness or injuries. Training grounds for those soldiers were erected in North Little Rock and Lonoke, and the first Arkansas chapter of the Red Cross, which is still active, took root.

In March 2016, Gov. Asa Hutchinson formed the state's World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee to decide how to honor the war's lasting effects on the state.

More than 140 events, with about 77,380 attendees, have been sanctioned by the commission since the group's inception, according to administrative analyst Angela Kubaiko.

On Wednesday, the committee formally decided that bells will ring Nov. 11 to mark the day Allied countries signed an armistice with a defeated Germany.

The Department of Arkansas Heritage will reach out to county governments, churches, libraries, historical societies, the American Legion and other groups to host bell-ringing events across the state, said Mark Christ, community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

Anyone who wants to be involved should contact him, Christ said.

On Aug. 18, a World War I seminar will be held at the Old State House Museum in downtown Little Rock, the commission also decided Wednesday.

Four scholars are already set to speak, and Christ is seeking a fifth lecturer. How the war defined the future of Arkansas is the general focus, he said.

Raymond Screws, director of the Arkansas National Guard Museum, will present on Camp Pike, the precursor to Camp Robinson. Brian Mitchell with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will discuss black veterans who returned from war and their connection to the Elaine Massacre, Christ said.

Roger Pauly with the University of Central Arkansas will highlight how World War I was an avenue to World War II. And Jeannie Whayne from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville will talk about the suffragette cause and its relationship to the Great War, Christ said.

Because the seminar will include lunch, there will likely be a cost, Christ said, though it hasn't been finalized.

A third commemoration is tentatively planned. An organization called The World Remembers offers to digitally display the names of those killed in World War I between 1914 and 1918, according to its website. Those names can be tailored by geographic location.

Wendy Richter, director of the state archives, brought the idea to the table Wednesday. The members who were present voted unanimously to pursue the plan.

Metro on 06/14/2018

Print Headline: Bells to toll across state in honor of WWI's end

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