by Marion Foster
The Paul Revere bell from the belfry of the Benton Falls Congregational Church has been silent this past year. It sits on the ground beside the church awaiting repair of the belfry timbers to support its 798-pound weight. The cradle in which it swings is now intact. While work and fundraising continues so the bell can resume its proper place in the church belfry, its service to the community continues:
On Veterans Day, November 11, at 11 a.m., the bell will ring eleven times.
The bell will be one of many in churches, towns, cities, and even individuals who join Veterans for Peace in the ringing of bells; as they have done for the last 25 years in remembrance of all those killed in warfare. In 1918 bells rang out joyously throughout the world to celebrate the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. Armistice Day is now known as Veterans Day to honor all those who have fought in all wars. World War I was considered to be so horrendous that people prayed and promised that it must never happen again. Yet wars continue and peace remains fragile and elusive in the world we live in.
The following remembrance from Veterans for Peace is meant to be shared down through the ages:
“The Armistice of 1918 ended the terrible slaughter of World War I. The U.S. alone had experienced the death of over 116,000 soldiers, plus many more who were physically and mentally disabled. For one moment, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the world agreed World War I must be considered the “The war to end all wars.” There was exuberant joy everywhere, and many churches rang their bells, some 11 times at 11 a.m., November 11, when the Armistice was signed. For many years this practice endured, and then slowly, it faded away. Now we do it again.
“We ring the bells 11 times, with a moment of silence, to remember the many soldiers and civilians killed and injured by warfare, and to make our own commitment to work for peace, in our family, our church, our community, our nation, and our world.”
Remember, the Paul Revere Bell that rings forth on November 11, 2020, was cast in 1828. It has seen war and famine, plagues and epidemics. It has been pulled from the bottom of the Sebasticook River and rung from the tower of the Benton Falls Church.
It is quieter now, as are we, while a viral pandemic assaults our community, our nation and our world. As an enduring symbol, with caution and care, it will once again rise to the tower and ring forth joyously! As will we.