Bells to ring out over town

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Remembrance Day: Ceremony to commemorate 100 years since First World War armistice

A 100-bell tribute to those who fought in the Great War will ring out over Okotoks on Sunday.

To mark a century since the signing of the armistice from the First World War, the Okotoks Legion is hosting a Bells of Peace ceremony at the cenotaph in Frederick Pryce Memorial Park on Nov. 11 beginning at 4:30 p.m.

It’s something the Legion Dominion has challenged all of its branches nationwide to take on.

“They have asked the Legions to reach out to the community, to all churches that would have bells, to ring 100 bells at sunset to commemorate what happened at the end of World War One, where all the bells started ringing to say it was the end of the Great War,” said Marcelle Tremblay, Okotoks Legion third vice-president.

Though it is no longer used as a place of worship, RPAC – which was once the Okotoks United Church – houses digital carillon bells in its tower, and they will ring at sunset.

Everyone is invited to gather at the cenotaph at 4:30 p.m. on Remembrance Day, where Malcolm Hughes, chairman of the Okotoks Legion, will open the ceremony with some history as to why the Bells of Peace will sound.

Then at 4:55 p.m., the bells will begin ringing every three seconds for five minutes – 100 chimes.

“After five minutes of ringing then we will have the Act of Remembrance, which is the laying of the wreaths and all of the names of the World War One veterans we know of in Okotoks will be read,” said Tremblay.

There are about 20 known local veterans of the First World War, she said.

Following the reading a quintet from Holy Trinity Academy will play Amazing Grace, she said.

The Bells of Peace ceremony should last about 45 minutes from the time people arrive at the cenotaph, she said.

But the goal to remember all Okotoks First World War vets won’t end there. Marcelle intends to engage local schools to take on a research project to help uncover more than the 20 known names of soldiers.

“Those individuals, unless they were recognized and passed in Europe, they would not really be recognized in the cemetery as being veterans during World War One,” she said. “So we don’t know who they all are.”

She said it would be nice to follow the European tradition of remembrance and place a Canadian flag on the gravestone of every veteran in local cemeteries, whether they fell during combat or not, before Remembrance Day each year.

“That’s something we would like to do here in Canada too, but we need to determine who these people are to be able to do it,” said Tremblay.

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