Sunday, November 11, 2018
Bells Across the Globe
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, one hundred years ago, bells rang around the world, announcing the end of what was, to that point, undoubtedly the most deadly war ever fought. Today, they ring again.
The bells will ring in England. Across Canada. In Chicago and other American cities. Memorials monumental and minimal will mark the centenary of the Armistice of the Great War. Sixty two thousand poppies at the Australian War Memorial will commemorate those from Australia who lost their lives—one handcrafted poppy for each life lost. Scotland will take seven hours to project the 134,712 names of their fallen—at ten seconds for each entry—onto the face of their parliament building beginning at 5:00 p.m. tonight. And in a graveyard in Gloucestershire, England, the apparition of eleven fallen soldiers, created by wire sculptor Jackie Lantelli, commemorates those local men who died in World War I.
"Lest we forget" may have been adopted, across the English-speaking world, as a reminder of the horrors of this war, but one hundred years out, there are none left who were actual eyewitnesses of that horrible time. While many of us have close relatives who fought in later wars, there are none left from the first World War to commemorate this day.
We can, however, preserve the remembrances of those we knew from our own families who did serve at that time. Their eyewitness stories, preserved in letters, journals, and perhaps even photographs, are now our only way to feel as if we are touching that moment that reshaped history so drastically. May the somber recognition of the day's significance, one hundred years ago, be inspiration of a start in our own research to delve into such aspects of our own ancestors' stories from that desperate era.