2018-11-09 / Front Page

World War I: Remember in OOB on Nov. 11

By Abigail Worthing Staff Writer


Deanna Weaver of Old Orchard Beach jots down a note in her notebook, where she has compiled research into World War I, as well as plans for the Centennial Bells of Peace ceremony, which will be held on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. in Veteran’s Memorial Park on Heath Street. (Abigail Worthing photo) Deanna Weaver of Old Orchard Beach jots down a note in her notebook, where she has compiled research into World War I, as well as plans for the Centennial Bells of Peace ceremony, which will be held on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. in Veteran’s Memorial Park on Heath Street. (Abigail Worthing photo) One local woman is doing everything within her power to ensure that this year, on the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I, Maine honors the fallen in poignant way.

One hundred years ago, on Nov. 11, 1918, a ceasefire was called to end what’s H.G. Wells coined “The war to end all wars,” World War I.

The armistice was signed at 5 a.m., and the ceasefire was to commence six hours later, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The Great War is estimated to have claimed 37.5 billion lives between the countries involved, and would not be fully resolved until the Treaty of Versailles was signed six months later.

The National World War I Centennial Commission sent this commemorative coin to Deanna Weaver as a thank-you for facilitating the Bells of Peace proclamation. The front has the dates of United States involvement in the conflict, 1917 to 1918, and the back has a silhouette of a soldier, with an emblem indicating the 100th anniversary. (Abigail Worthing photo)The National World War I Centennial Commission sent this commemorative coin to Deanna Weaver as a thank-you for facilitating the Bells of Peace proclamation. The front has the dates of United States involvement in the conflict, 1917 to 1918, and the back has a silhouette of a soldier, with an emblem indicating the 100th anniversary. (Abigail Worthing photo)
“People forget that Veteran’s Day is actually the day when the fighting stopped in World War I,” said Old Orchard Beach resident Deanna Weaver, a World War I enthusiast and coordinator for this year’s centennial celebration the Bells of Peace. During Bells of Peace, a national event, bells will be tolled 21 times at 5-second intervals to commemorate the moment of armistice. Weaver is the event’s Maine Sponsor.

Bells of Peace is a World War I Centennial-Commission-endorsed event to commemorate the occasion, and will this year be observed in Old Orchard Beach on Nov. 11 in Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Working with the National Centennial Commission, Weaver secured an official proclamation, signed by Gov. Paul LePage, which she will read at the Sunday, Nov. 11 ceremony in the park. Weaver has been made the sponsor for the state of Maine proclamation and received a coin commemorating her involvement.

While the ceremonies take place across the country, this year, Old Orchard Beach will host the ceremony in conjunction with the veterans’ flag raising ceremony that has become a summertime hallmark in Veteran’s Memorial Park on Heath Street.

The flag raising ceremony occurs daily during the summertime in Old Orchard Beach, but also observes other memorial holidays, such as Pearl Harbor Day on Dec. 7 and POW/MIA Recognition Day on Sept. 20. For this particular ceremony, there will be representatives from Veterans Affairs, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, and the American Legion, and will feature a bugle player to play taps.

“This will be a very special ceremony because it is the 100th anniversary, which not many people know about,” said Rich Litwin, who performs the daily flag raising ceremony and is the Grand Marshall of the Memorial Day Parade in Old Orchard Beach. “We’re trying to get people aware. This was a horrible war, and we want to honor those who served.”

The ceremony will start with the tolling of the bells, followed by the National Anthem and flag raising. Weaver will speak during the ceremony about the importance of the bells and of the historical significance of World War I, and will then read an official proclamation regarding the event.

“Of all the wars, the first World War is often overlooked, seeing as it was followed by World War II, Vietnam, Korea. But so many people lost their lives during this war.”

Weaver, an admitted history buff, has read everything she can get her hands on about World War I. The more she researched the war, however, the more she was shocked at how little historical focus there is on World War I.

“Did you know there isn’t a monument to World War I in Washington, D.C.?,” Weaver asked. “It’s been planned, but it won’t be done in time for the centennial. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that.”

In her research, Weaver came across plans to build a memorial in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C., where it will join the Vietnam and Korean War monuments, which stand as tribute to those who lost their lives in the conflicts. Plans for the World War I memorial include a reflecting pool, waterfall and relief statue depicting soldiers by sculptor Sabine Howard.

As Weaver followed the progress of the memorial in Washington, D.C., Weaver came upon the World War I Centennial Commission, a board appointed by the president and Senate to fundraise and plan events to commemorate the centennial. It was through the organization that Weaver was introduced to the Bells of Peace celebrations, and the official proclamations released by participating states to announce the memorial.

“I was surprised to find out that Maine didn’t have an official proclamation, saying that the state officially supported this memorial,” Weaver said. “When I learned that the commission hadn’t been able to get an official proclamation because you need to be a resident of Maine to submit one, I reached out to them and said, ‘hello, I think I can help you guys.’”

Those who wish to join the festivities are welcome to witness the bells and ceremony at Memorial Park in Old Orchard Beach, or can download the Bells of Peace app, which allows users to set digital bells to ring to mark the time, with options of bell tones that range from a cathedral bells to a firehouse bell.

“People called this ‘the war to end all wars,’ but it was really the war that started it all, because it was followed by World War II, and Vietnam, and the Korean War,” Weaver said. “It changed warfare forever, and so many people died. They deserve to be remembered, and I’m happy to be a part of it for the centennial.”

FMI

The Bells of Peace memorial event will be held on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at Veteran's Memorial Park on Heath Street in Old Orchard Beach.

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

Return to top