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Bells will toll Sunday to honor the 100th anniversary of WWI.

American Legion Posts nationwide are asking for bells to be tolled 21 times at 11 a.m. on Nov 11, in memory of the WWI ending on Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m., with the signing of the armistice and to honor WWI service members.

Ruth Cook, commander of American Legion Post 47 in Hamilton, said all the churches in Ravalli County who have bells have agreed to participate.

“This Veterans Day is unlike any anyone has seen and none of us living today will see it again,” Cook said. “This is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. This is a way to honor all veterans, we know those veterans themselves aren’t here.”

The bells will ring at 11 a.m., in each time zone, so the peals will roll across the United States starting at the east coast. Bells will ring 21 times in each time zone across the country.

Ringing the bells 21 times is significant because it represents the 21-gun salute.

The Ravalli County Museum, the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department and Hamilton High School will be tolling their bells.

Hamilton High School Principal Dan Kimzey will personally be ringing the old school bell in the new sports complex on Sunday.

“I’m excited to have HHS take part in the nationwide recognition of the history of the end of World War I and be a part of the solidarity of a nationwide effort to recognize our veterans,” he said. “I’ll happily be at the new Bronc stadium Sunday morning at 11 a.m. doing our part for the bells of peace activities around the country in remembrance of the many sacrifices veterans have made for our country.”

Although the complete history of the bell is unknown, the bell was at Haynes Field for years and tradition continues as it is rung for touchdowns.

American Legion Post 47 has been in Hamilton since 1919 and the local organization is building community involvement.

“The American Legion was formed in March of 1919 and we were chartered in December of 1919 so next year is our 100th anniversary,” Cook said. “We hope to have a lot of events going on all year for our centennial.”

Monday is the 29th annual Veterans Day program at Ravalli County Museum and the program begins at 2 p.m., on Nov. 12. It begins with military honors at Dough Boy statue outside the museum. Then guests go into the museum for a presentation on an aspect of military history.

The main speaker is Stevensville author Larry Strate, who will present about what he learned writing his book “From Battlefields to Beet Fields” about the Prisoner of War Camps in the Bitterroot Valley during WWII.

“We had Italian and German prisoners of war here and they lived on the farms and worked in the fields,” Cook said. “There is a lot of history here that people don’t know.”

Strate has a book signing at the Ravalli County Museum four days later at 7 p.m., on Nov. 16.  

Nationally, the bell ringing idea called “Bells of Peace: A World War I Remembrance” is supported by the World War I Centennial Commission, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, the Society of the Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the National Cathedral, The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

John Monahan, the American Legion's representative on the World War I Centennial Commission that was established in 2013, said in a press release, "I encourage American Legion posts to not only participate, but to encourage participation at local houses of worship, schools, town halls, firehouses, police stations — anywhere people may gather on that day to honor and remember.”

World War I was between July 1914 and November 1918 and is among the deadliest conflicts in world history with 375,000 injured and 16,516 deaths. The United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, with nearly five million Americans serving and two million of those deployed overseas to fight.  

Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf made a proclamation, Wednesday, for all bells in Hamilton to be rung on Sunday.

Everyone is invited to ring a bell 21 times at 11 a.m., on Nov. 11, to honor, recognize and commemorate the service and sacrifice of all veterans. There is a mobile phone app to allow individuals to personally ring out for remembrance at ww1cc.org/app. For more information on how to conduct the bell tolling in a more meaningful way visit the World War I Centennial Commission’s website: ww1cc.org/bells.

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