Arkansas's World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee is encouraging individual Arkansans, organizations and churches to participate in a statewide ringing of bells Nov. 11 to observe the 100th anniversary of the official end of the war.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has issued a proclamation noting Nov. 11, which is also Veterans Day, as "Bells of Peace: World War I Remembrance Day" on which bells are to be rung 11 times at 11 a.m., to remember those who served in the war and celebrate its ending.
The time and date coincide with the official end of fighting in World War I, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Initial plans for the project were announced by the committee in June.
The committee has scheduled its bell-ringing event at MacArthur Park in Little Rock. It was announced at the committee's final scheduled meeting Wednesday. Hutchinson formed the committee in March 2016 to decide how honor the war's lasting effects on the state.
Anyone wanting to participate can submit their organization's name and the address at which the memorial bell-ringing will take place to firstname.lastname@example.org. The information will then be listed online at wwiarkansas.com/events/2018-11-11-bells-of-peace.
"We're getting the word out," said Mark Christ, the Department of Arkansas Heritage designee on the committee. "It's something we want to try to really promote that project. We want to get the word out for local commemorations."
The involvement of churches will be important for the project's success, Christ said, because Nov. 11 falls on a Sunday and the time will come during many morning church services.
More than 71,000 solders from Arkansas served during World War I, with more than 2,100 dying from wounds or illnesses. The flu pandemic of 1917-1918 resulted in the death of about 7,000 Arkansans, more than three times the number of Arkansas soldiers who died.
The committee has sanctioned 156 observances and events since its beginning, drawing 79,505 attendees, according to committee figures. The committee also partnered with the Arkansas Forestry Commission to place a memorial tree in each of the state's 75 counties to remember the war dead and all who served.
"We've gotten some good history work done and had some original research done," Committee Chairman Shawn Fisher, a history professor at Harding University in Searcy, said of the committee's work. "World War I is sort of a forgotten war in public memory."
The committee's most lasting work will be the memorial tree project, Christ said.
"That will probably be the legacy project for the committee," Christ said. "Those trees will still be there 100 years from now."
Metro on 09/20/2018