Written by Scott Price
Chief Historian, Coast Guard
Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of hostilities during World War I. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of November 1918, the guns that caused such destruction fell silent, ending what to that time was the most bloody conflict humanity had ever fought.
To mark this solemn occasion, the United States WWI Centennial Commission is calling on Americans across the nation to toll bells at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 in remembrance of those who served during that conflict.
The tolling of bells is a traditional expression of honor and remembrance. WWICC’s “Bells of Peace” initiative is a national event to honor the 4.5 million Americans who served in uniform, the 116,516 Americans who died and more than 200,000 who were wounded in what was referred to as the Great War.
During the “war to end all wars,” the Coast Guard served as part of the Navy, with many cutters taking part in combat with the nation’s enemies. The Coast Guard, too, paid dearly. The USS Tampa sunk after being attacked by a German U-Boat, with all 130 souls aboard, including 111 Coast Guardsmen, 4 Navy members and 15 British passengers. 11 Coast Guardsmen from the USS Seneca also perished during a rescue attempt off the coast of France while 70 others were lost to drowning, disease and collisions, among other causes.
To honor those whom we lost, the Coast Guard, in concert with our Navy shipmates, ask commands and members to toll their bells 21 times – the highest honor afforded by U.S. naval tradition. Please honor and remember those that have gone before us, especially those who gave their lives to preserve the freedoms we have, by ringing a bell 21 times.
You may find more information about the event here.
The WWICC has an app that you may download if you do not have access to a bell.
Please note that there is no requirement to download the app and you do so at your own risk to your personal electronic devices. No costs associated with the app will be reimbursed by the government.