Members of the Benton Falls Congregational Church and local residents gather around the Revere bell Wednesday after the bell ringing ceremony to commemorate Veterans Day. Molly Shelly/Morning Sentinel

BENTON — A group of about 20 people gathered at the Benton Falls Congregational Church Wednesday morning to commemorate Veterans Day with a bell ringing ceremony.

The event commenced at 10:55 a.m., with the reading of a statement from Veterans for Peace, a nonprofit organization aimed at promoting alternatives to war and educating the public on the cost of warfare.

“The Armistice of 1918 ended the terrible slaughter of World War I. The U.S. alone had experienced the death of over 116,000 soldiers, plus many more who were physically and mentally disabled. For one moment, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the world agreed World War I must be considered the war to end all wars,” the statement read.

“There was exuberant joy everywhere, and many churches rang their bells, some 11 times at 11 a.m. November 11, when the Armistice was signed. For many years this practice endured, and then slowly, it faded away. Now we do it again. We ring the bells 11 times, with a moment of silence, to remember the many soldiers and civilians killed and injured by warfare, and to make our own commitment to work for peace, in our family, our church, our community, our nation, our world. God bless the entire world.”

Since it formed in 1985, the organization has worked to promote bell ringing ceremonies across the country for Veterans Day.

Following the remembrance, the names of the 25 men from Benton who served in World War I were read aloud. The group then observed a moment of silence and rang the bell 11 times at exactly 11 a.m.

The church’s bell was the last Revere Bell produced in 1828 from the Revere Foundry in Canton, Massachusetts.

While the church, located at 112 Falls Road, continues fundraising for its ongoing restoration project, the bell has been removed from the tower and placed in a new cradle under a cement shed on the ground.

Marion Foster, a member of Benton Falls Congregational Church, wanted to hold a bell ringing ceremony after learning about the Veterans For Peace organization.

“We just thought this was a really good observance for Veterans Day,” Foster said. “And also because the bell is down, we thought this was a good time to remind people that we still have a bell, that we’re still a community, that kind of thing. And we thought that Veterans Day kind of coincided with that, represented community members and remembered them.”

In an article Foster wrote for the Town Line Newspaper, she further explained the importance of having the ceremony.

“Remember, the Paul Revere Bell that rings forth on November 11, 2020, was cast in 1828. It has seen war and famine, plagues and epidemics … ” Foster wrote. “It is quieter now, as are we, while a viral pandemic assaults our community, our nation and our world. As an enduring symbol, with caution and care, it will once again rise to the tower and ring forth joyously, as will we.”

Among the attendees were Ron Ready of Windsor, Tom Hatch of Benton, and John Parkin of Randolph, who served in the Air Force, and Bob Foster of Albion, who served in the Army.

“I had three brothers,” Foster said. “We were all in the military. The oldest was in the Army Air Corps, second was Marines, third was Navy and I was Army.”

Ready, who was in the service for 20 years, said he attended the ceremony because it seemed like a different way to celebrate Veterans Day than he had done before.

“I read that this was going to be happening this morning, and I’ve been to all types of commemorations and such,” Ready said. “But this sounded like it was going to be just a little bit different. And I had never seen a Revere bell, so I wanted to do that and also share this day with any veterans who were coming.”

Hatch shared similar sentiments.

“It was important to come here and remember everyone who served,” Hatch said. “Those who served and also those, a lot of those, who didn’t come back.”

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