When the Armistice ending World War I was signed in 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, bells of joy rang around the world, asking everyone, everywhere to work for lasting peace. As late as 1929, the President of the United States made a Memorial Day speech, saying, “We’re gathered to honor those who gave their lives in service to their country, and there’s no greater tribute we could pay than to do everything possible to end war in the world.” Sadly, slowly, this emphasis faded away, replaced too often with a cry of “You don’t support the troops” when someone speaks of working for peace. This, even though frequently that shout is accompanied by cuts in benefits for soldiers who’ve been sent off to serve.
25 years ago, Veterans For Peace, Chapter 27, in Minneapolis/St. Paul, began once again celebrating November 11th, as the original Armistice, speaking of working for peace and for justice for veterans, and ringing bells of peace 11 times at the 11th hour on November 11th. Three years ago our national group helped cities around the country celebrate in a similar way, and this year veterans were able to work with metal sculptor, Gita Ghei, www.gitapatina.com, to design and cast their own bells of peace and healing. This activity was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
We are committed to letting the bells of peace ring out the hard work of building peace around the world once again. We can help your church or school hold your own ceremony on November 11th, or explore other issues of peacemaking. We can provide peace curriculum ideas, Veterans For Peace speakers throughout the year, or leaders to help you remember the Armistice as it was meant to be remembered. Please go to our website at www.vfpchapter27.org or call Larry Johnson, Education Outreach Coordinator, at 612-747-3904. If you’re outside of Minnesota, we can connect you with similar resources through our national organization, www.veteransforpeace.org.
We didn’t know this when we started our work, but please note there is a Worldwide Peace Bell Foundation, at www.peacebellfoundation.org, and many other resources to help you work toward peace and justice for all. Some of these include Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers at www.mapm.org, Nonviolent Peaceforce at www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org, World Citizen/Peace Sites at www.peacesites.org, Student Peace Alliance at www.studentpeacealliance.org, and World Beyond War at www.worldbeyondwar.org.