WASHINGTON As the milestone death of the 2,500th soldier in Iraq approaches, churches across America are being called to ring their bells in remembrance of the cost of the soldiers sacrifice to their country.
Organized by DemocracyRising.US and FaithfulAmerica.org an interfaith group initiated by the National Council of Churches, the nationwide Ring of Remembrance is expected to draw participation from thousands of churches, synagogues and mosques.
Bell ringing has historically been used to call communities together in times of joy, sadness, or crisis, said Vince Isner, director of FaithfulAmerica.org. We believe this is not only a time of sadness, but an opportunity to ring in a new season of peace.
To date, 2,481 U.S. soldiers have been killed in the war in Iraq, and churches will ring their bells when the death toll rises to 2,500.
The bell-ringing call comes as Americans approval for the war dropped to record lows. According to AP-Ipsos polling taken Monday through Wednesday, 59 percent of adults say the United States made a mistake in going to war in Iraq. President Bushs handling of Iraq dipped to 33 percent, a new low.
However, both the poll and the bell-ringing call came before the death of al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al Zaqawi in Iraq late Wednesday an event hailed as a severe blow to al-Qaida and a significant victory in the war on terror by President Bush.
"We have tough days ahead of us in Iraq that will require the continuing patience of the American people, Bush said.
According to the National Council of Churches a vocal critic of the war, the bell-ringing initiative is meant both as a commemoration to the fallen soldiers sacrifices and a reminder of the high costs of the Iraq war.
The expected death of the 2,500th U.S. soldier will be a profound loss for our nation and the world, said the Rev. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA. As persons of faith, we are called not only to remember their sacrifice, but also to remind our leaders that we are called to be peacemakers.