by Ian Scott
Bell ringers will gather this Remembrance Day in their respective places of worship across the country and around the world to remember the sacrifice of those who served and died in WWI. This will take place at the going down of the sun which locally is 4:44 pm. Peace finally arrived at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month - 100 years ago and the bells of remembrance will recognize the loss to both those who served and civilians.
Canadian bells will be tolled 100 times, in a manner similar to a funeral with a 5 sec. period of silence between each tolling. Some counties have chosen other times during the day to ring their bells, and in the UK bell ringers will both toll their bells, but change over half way through to full ringing (like wedding bells, to celebrate the long-awaited peace). The tradition of using bells as a way of communications is longstanding and many stories are told of how people in England first learned of peace 100 years ago through the ringing of the local church bell as news travelled across the countryside bell ringer to bell ringer in a time when alternate means of communication were limited but joyful bell ringing was a sign recognized by all, at work in fields or in villages.
Charlottetown residents recall the end of WW II which likewise was communicated with the ringing of church bells. Allan C. McLeod, of Prince Charles Drive recalled the day as a boy well. In 1945 he and a friend were at the Charlottetown Driving Park. The memory remains fresh, “I’ll never forget it, the bells ringing across the city and everyone looking around and wondered what it meant.” The arrival of peace was a moment in time that became a demarcation in the flow of events for families, communities and entire countries, as the dread of awaiting sad personal news from war zones would gradually pass away. For Allan McLeod the bells announcing the end of war permanently established a clear memory of where he was, and who he was with.
Various local churches have been contacted by the Royal Canadian Legion and have agreed to participate in this historic event to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918. Bells will commence at 4:44 pm, as an appropriate way to mark this occasion. Allan McLeod will be among the bell ringers at the Kirk of St. James on Sunday.