Ring in Peace on Armistice Day, Friday, November 11, 2022

Ring Bells for Peace! 11:00 am at Veteran’s Memorial Park

Alaska Peace Center and Veterans For Peace North Star Chapter 146 invite the Fairbanks community to ring bells at 11:00 am at Veteran’s Memorial Park, 700 Cushman Street in Fairbanks, in celebration of Armistice Day on Friday, November 11. Bring a bell if you have one (we’ll have extras if you don’t), in any case bring a friend. The Peace Choir will be present to sing some songs.

Bell-ringing has been a traditional way of celebrating Armistice Day ever since the end of World War One (known at the time as “The Great War”) 104 years ago. It signifies the relief and joy felt around the world when the Armistice was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Bells were rung to celebrate peace and the end of four years of war that killed or wounded more than 21 million people. In the wake of so much carnage, it was then clear to millions of people that wars were not about valor or romantic ideals, but about empire, which benefits a few at the expense of many. A tradition of observing the anniversary of the Armistice by ringing bells to honor veterans and promote peace spread throughout the world.

Armistice Day was first officially recognized by Congress in 1926 as a day that “should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations,” and “with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” It became a legal holiday nationwide by an act of Congress in 1938, dedicated to the cause of world peace. In 1954 President Eisenhower changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day by presidential proclamation, admonishing us to “re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.” However, in contrast to Eisenhower’s intention, rebranding Armistice Day as Veterans Day has led to a change from celebrating peace to celebrating the military and glorifying war. Armistice Day has been flipped from a day for peace into a day for displays of militarism.

Today there are armed conflicts in 54 countries across the globe in which people are actively being killed. Preliminary statistics show a minimum of 218,290 deaths so far this year from armed conflicts worldwide. This does not include deaths from disease or starvation related to those conflicts. Concomitant with this wanton human destruction is massive environmental destruction. The number of people forced out of their homes and livelihoods and into refugee status is now at the highest level since World War II. Military Forces involved in these conflicts release huge quantities of greenhouse gases and spread pollution around the world. All this is taking place while the world is facing unprecedented problems of climate change, environmental destruction, and pollution that demand human cooperation to solve. It is time to throw “full-spectrum dominance” into the political trash can and apply ourselves to “full-spectrum cooperation!” The huge proportion of the world’s wealth dedicated to militarism and death should be applied to solving the myriad problems facing the world today.

The Alaska Peace Center, along with Veterans For Peace nationally and locally, celebrates the original intent of November 11th – as a day to rededicate ourselves to work toward peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. Peace, not war, is the best way to honor the sacrifices of veterans.

For more reflections on the significance of Armistice Day see the essay by Skip Oliver.

Bell and doves

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts, 4 Nov 2022


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