A very special event is set to take place in Outlook on Remembrance Day that, on top of the morning program held earlier that day, will serve as an additional, sobering reminder of what the significance of November 11 means to veterans, serving members of the Armed Forces and branches of the Royal Canadian Legion across Canada.
To help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the Outlook Legion Branch #262 will hold what's called a 'Bells of Peace' ceremony. Legion branches across the country are being asked to hold such a ceremony, in which a bell will be rung 100 times to mark the anniversary.
It's estimated that World War I saw approximately 15-19 million deaths and roughly 23 million wounded military personnel, putting it among some of the deadliest human conflicts in world history. Between 9 to 11 million military personnel were killed, as well as about 8 million civilians, which include roughly 6 million due to famine and disease related to the war.
Speaking directly to Canadian statistics, just under 620,000 Canadians enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and close to 424,000 of them ended up serving overseas. When all was said and done, close to 61,000 of our men and women had been killed, while another 172,000 were wounded. Many more returned home and were deemed 'broken', both physically and/or mentally.
The last living World War I veteran from Canada was Sgt. John Babcock, who was just 15 years old when he joined the 146th Battalion in Sydenham, Ontario. Sgt. Babcock died in February 2010 at the age of 109.
The Bells of Peace ceremony event will be held just before dusk on Sunday, November 11 at 5:00 PM in front of the Outlook & District Heritage Museum, where the large, old-fashioned bell will be rung. The Legion's plan is to have ten people from the community each ring the bell ten times to mark 100 tolls. These people include the Mayor or Deputy Mayor of Outlook, the President of Branch #262, a mother of a serving member of the Armed Forces, a descendant of a veteran of the First World War, students from Outlook High School, Outlook Elementary School and LCBI High School, a member of the Outlook RCMP, a member of the Outlook Fire Department, and a member of local Ambulance Services.
A similar event is also being held down in Macrorie at the same start time of 5:00 pm, where the Macrorie Legion Branch #239 will ring the bell at the Veterans Park located in front of the Macrorie heritage school. Canadian flags will be placed on World War I graves and special pins will be presented at the ceremony.
The Bells of Peace ceremony is expected to last between 15-20 minutes.