Pittsburg, CA – November 7, 2018– East County Shared Ministry will join citizens, congregations and organizations across the country to ring Bells of Peace as a solemn remembrance of the Armistice of World War I, which the nation hoped was be “the war to end all wars.” At 11 am on Sunday morning, November 11, bells will toll 21 times all over the United States and in various countries around the world.
The World War One Centennial Commission – along with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, the Society of the Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the National Cathedral, The American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars – has announced a nationwide bell-tolling on November 11. The Bells of Peace effort is calling on American Legion posts, houses of worship, schools, town halls, firehouses, police stations or any gatherings to honor and remember the 116,516 World War I veterans who died and all veterans who have served and sacrificed.
East County Shared Ministry meets in the historic Stoneman Chapel, which was part of Camp Stoneman, during World War II. It was the last stop for troops being sent to the Pacific Theater. In 1942, construction began in February and was completed in September, with the first troops arriving in May while construction was still underway. Troops marched under a portal as they left the camp headed to the trains and ships awaiting them at the end of Harbor Street. The inscription on the arch read “Through These Portals Pass the Best Damn Soldiers in the World.” The historic arch is housed in Pittsburg’s Historic Museum.
At its peak capacity, the 2,840-acres of Camp Stoneman had three motion picture theaters, a 10,000-seat outdoor theater, weekly USO shows, a Post Exchange, service club, medical facilities and the interfaith chapel, which is the only remaining structure. Over 20,000 troops could be housed and fed at a time. Prisoners of war were also housed here. In 1954, after a life span of 12 years, Camp Stoneman closed.
Over the years, many veterans have returned to the chapel, which was often their last place of worship before deployment. Many were married to their stateside sweethearts before leaving, and some have made pilgrimages back to celebrate milestone anniversaries.
On Sunday, November 11, along with joining the nationwide Bells for Peace, East County Shared Ministry will honor all veterans attending the worship service with commemorative Poppy lapel pins. All in attendance will receive a fabric poppy as a memento.
“Our entire service will be centered around the centennial of the World War I Armistice,” commented Rev. Christy Ramage. “Music and a brief review of Camp Stoneman’s history will be included as well as our hopes and prayers for a soon-coming peace.”
About East County Shared Ministry
East County Shared Ministry consists of Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg and First Congregational Church of Antioch. ECSM recognizes, celebrates and gives thanks for the many diverse gifts of God among us. All are invited to participate in their community and worship life including, but not limited to, believers, seekers, agnostics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions, those of all races and cultures, those of all classes and abilities, those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope.
Services are every Sunday at 10 a.m. Visit www.eastcountysharedministry.orgor call 925.439.9161 for further information.