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Veterans Celebrate Armistice Day


Among Veterans Day events yesterday was a traditional bell-ringing by service members. The Alaska Veterans for Peace met in Fairbanks Monday for their annual celebration of Armistice Day, the original name of the end-of-war holiday. 

Bells were rung at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Fairbanks. The Alaska Veterans for Peace has been celebrating Armistice Day this way for years. People bring chimes, or cowbells or handbells to the spot under flying American flags, to replicate the first celebration of the Peace Pact between the Allies and Germany that was signed at the end of World War I. That was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

So the group in Fairbanks rang 11 bells at the 11th hour.

(Sound of bells.)

Alan Batten of Veterans for Peace says a day that celebrates peace is the best way to honor the sacrifices of veterans.

“Armistice Day is a celebration of peace. That was really a big thing after WWI. World War I exhausted people all over the world and they were really glad to see it end. And I hate to see it turn from a celebration of peace into a celebration of militarism.”

After World War II (two) European Nations began calling the holiday “Remembrance Day” to commemorate the end of wars and those who died for peace.

Credit R
Rob Mulford with Alaska Veterans for Peace.

The U.S. Congress passed legislation in 1954, replacing the word "Armistice" with "Veterans," and November 11th has been known as Veterans Day in the US since then.

Rob Mulford with Alaska Veterans for Peace says ringing the bells on November 11th is cathartic.

“It’s a release of a lot of pent-up stress, for one thing. Not only an action, but a celebration. When you can celebrate…prayer and celebration are really important.”

Mulford has been coordinating the event for the North Star, Veterans for Peace Chapter 146 and the Alaska Peace Center.