OLD ORCHARD BEACH — At 11 a.m. on Sunday, bells will toll across the country, a solemn reminder of those who lost their lives during World War I through the nationwide Bells of Peace project. Locally, bells will toll at a ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park on Heath Street in Old Orchard Beach.

Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

The Bells of Peace project is an initiative that started in 2014 by the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at Arlington National Cemetery. It is co-led by Washington National Cathedral, and is sponsored by the World War I Centennial Commission and designed to commemorate the service and sacrifice of those who served in World War I and all other veterans.

The tolling of the bells is a traditional way to mark someone’s death, and on special national occasions, bells are tolled in honor of the fallen, according to the United States World War I Centennial Commission. The commission estimates that 116,516 Americans died and more than 200,000 were wounded during World War I.

The initiative is asking participants to toll a bell 21 times, beginning at 11 a.m., with a five-second interval between tolls. Those who don’t have a bell can download a free smartphone app by going to the Apple App Store or Google Play and searching for “Bells of Peace.”

“It will be a very solemn reminder,” said Deanna Weaver, organizer of the local Bells of Peace effort.

The Bells of Peace bell ringing will be held in conjunction with the a flag raising ceremony, hosted by the Old Orchard Beach Flag Raising Committee, a dedicated group of people who faithfully hold nightly flag raising ceremonies to honor veterans in the summer. Flag Raising Committee member Dennis Robillard said the ceremony will also include live singing by Don Campbell and Tristin Thomsen, short speeches by local veterans and a reading of a state proclamation read by Weaver.

Weaver is a local World War I enthusiast who became interested in learning about the war while researching her genealogy.

“I read everything I can about World War I. I watch documentaries like crazy,” she said.

Weaver said she was shocked to find out that there hasn’t yet been constructed a national monument for World War I and she wants to bring more awareness of that era of history and recognize those who served in the war.

Weaver is encouraging all who can to come on Sunday to toll their bells. Those who are unable to come to the park can still participate by ringing a bell or play the phone app, wherever they are.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 780-9015 or [email protected]

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