Residents in the River Valley & Ozark Edition coverage area will join other Arkansans as they observe Nov. 11 as Bells of Peace: World War I Remembrance Day. Many residents and organizations will ring bells 11 times at 11 a.m. Nov. 11.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has issued a proclamation for the observance, citing “nearly 72,000 Arkansans, including more than 18,000 African-
American, served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I, … more than 2,000 died during their service, and more than 1,700 were wounded or injured.”
The Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee has organized the bell-ringing effort to celebrate the end of World War I and to remember the millions who fought and died in what was hoped to be “The War to End All Wars.” Nov. 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the hostilities on Nov. 11, 1918 — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Nov. 11 was first observed as Armistice Day but was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and honors all military veterans.
At least three local organizations have listed their Bells of Peace events with the Arkansas Department of Heritage, which oversees the work of the Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee.
Members of the Perryville United Methodist Church Bell Choir will participate in the Bells of Peace observance on Nov. 11.
“We will begin our service by asking our veterans by branch to stand and be acknowledged,” said the Rev. Chanda Adams, pastor and a member of the bell choir, along with her husband, Randy Adams. “At 11 a.m., we will ring bells 11 times for the Bells of Peace.
“We will also offer green army-soldier toys to take home and place on a table to remind us to pray for our vets, our active service people and their families,” Chanda Adams said.
Kate Cole, director of the handbell choir, said the church has had a handbell choir “off and on” for approximately 30 years.
“I took over leading the handbell choir last year,” Cole said, adding that she took piano lessons for eight years and does read music. “Some of our members read music … some don’t. … They play by colors. We all do it because we enjoy it.”
Other members of the handbell choir include Cindy Langston, Cole Cody and his wife, Jennifer Cody, Carolyn McCallister and Nancy O’Such.
Perryville United Methodist Church is at 123 Cross St. in Perryville.
Information from the Perry County Veterans Services website, perrycoarkansas.org, shows that six Perry County residents were MIA (missing in action) or KIA (killed in action) in World War I: Verland H. Burch, James G. Gaston, Benjamin F. Green, Larkin W. Leach, Albert R. Martin and Clarence E. Thornburg. These veterans’ names are etched on a monument on the Perry County Courthouse lawn.
Peace Lutheran Church, 800 S. Donaghey Ave. in Conway, will participate in the bell-ringing observance during the church’s 10:45 a.m. worship service Nov. 11.
“We will have several individuals — adults and children — who will play the handbells 11 times at 11 a.m.,” said the Rev. John Gierke, senior pastor. “We are also going to ask if any of our veterans want to play the bells as well. Then we will have a prayer and sing the Navy hymn, ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save.’”
Gierke said the church has approximately 20 veterans and whoever is there on Nov. 11 will be invited to participate in the Bells of Peace observance.
The Faulkner County Museum in Conway invites the public to a bell-ringing observance at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at the museum, 801 Locust St. on the courthouse square.
“We will ring bells and offer a short nondenominational prayer,” said Lynita Langley-Ware, museum director. “We are asking people to bring their own bells to ring.
“After that short ceremony, people will be invited to come inside the museum to view the World War I exhibit we have on display,” she said. “We have a list of Faulkner County residents who registered for World War I that shows 45 served in the war. We also know that 20 were killed in the war. We have photos of Otis Irby and Henry
Brown, both of Mayflower, who served in World War I, as well as information about Theodore Campbell, who was the first Faulkner County casualty of that war and for whom the American Legion Post 16 is named.”
The World War I exhibit can be seen this week during normal museum hours, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The exhibit will close following the Nov. 11 Bells of Peace observance.
First Baptist Church, 201 N. Fourth St. in Heber Springs, will also participate in the Nov. 11 Bells of Peace observance.
Beth Stracener, church secretary, said the 12-member, three-octave handbell choir will play a song and ring the bells 11 times.
“We are going to do our very best to play a pretty chord at 11,” she said, laughing. “It may be a little hard to do it at that exact time, but we will get as close to it as we can.”
Stracener, who is also a member of the bell choir, said the church will hold a pancake breakfast in honor of veterans at 8:45 a.m., followed by a veteran speaker at 9:30 and a patriotic service at 10:30.
“We also will have a slide show of our veterans with them in their uniforms,” she said. “Following that, they will all come down front, and we will thank them personally with a hug and a handshake.”