The National Council of Churches USA is asking persons of faith to honor the men and women who have fallen in the Iraq war with a nation-wide pealing of bells Sunday.

Faithful America, the NCC's Web-based community of 100,000 faith-inspired activists across the country, is calling for a weekly nation-wide tolling of bells to extend the profoundly spiritual tone of the vigil of Gold Star mothers outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex. The President's five-week vacation in Crawford ends next week.

The use of bells to symbolize national support for U.S. troops and their families was suggested by consumer activist and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader whose organization Democracy Rising is working to stop the war, passed the idea along to NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar.

August 24 is the last Sunday Mr. Bush will be in Crawford, and Gold Star Families will join activist Cindy Sheehan in a prayer service outside the ranch. Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, has attracted worldwide attention by camping outside the Bush ranch.

In an e-mail alert sent today, the FaithfulAmerica team asked its members to help keep the Gold Star vigil alive by ringing bells this Sunday and on future Sundays.

"We ask your faith community to remember our nation's fallen soldiers and their families by tolling your bell," wrote Vince Isner, director of "Let us all pause to remember their sacrifice, to remember their families as we seek God's help in sharing the burden of Cindy Sheehan, Celeste Zappala, and the other Gold Star families" who are asking why their children had to die.

Zappala, a United Methodist laywoman, lost her son, Sherwood, in Iraq action.

Isner said the ringing could include church bells, hand bells, school bells and any other available bells. He suggested that the bells be sounded each Sunday, tolling once for every soldier who died the previous week. Churches may also opt to ring their bells every day, he said.

To date, nearly 1,900 U.S. soldiers have been killed and more than 15,000 have been maimed and wounded. There are no official records of the numbers of Iraqi citizens who have died in the invasion and its aftermath, but estimates range in the tens of thousands.

The tolling is part of a pastoral effort to support the families of the dead and injured, and to help keep the nation's "attention focused on the well-being of our heroic men and women in uniform and the families who worry about them every day," Isner wrote.

Additional information, and resources for reflection, can be found at

The National Council of Churches is composed of 36 Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and peace communions representing 45 million Christians in 100,000 local congregations in the United States.

Contact NCC News.  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2252,; Leslie Tune, 202-544-2350,; and Vince Isner, 202-544-2350,

You can comment on this proposal by visiting Ralph Nader's blog at www.DemocracyRising.US