The birth of the new bells is one of the high points of the yearlong Dutch “75 Years of Freedom” campaign, which highlights the Dutch gratitude toward the liberators of the Netherlands in World War II, including the United States. Photo: Rob Fritsen
(Washington, D.C.) – Dutch bell makers started the casting process to create three new bells for the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington, Virginia. The first and largest bell was cast in the days approaching Dutch-American Friendship Day (April 19) in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The bells are dedicated to Secretary George C. Marshall, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt.
In October 2019, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Royal Netherlands Embassy launched the renovation of the Netherlands Carillon. While the NPS started renovating the tower in Arlington, Va., the embassy coordinated the renovation of the carillon’s 50 bells and shipment to the Netherlands for restoration and tuning by Dutch bell foundry Royal Eijsbouts.
The bell casting process began on the eve of Dutch-American Friendship Day. Its conclusion will result in 53 bells for the carillon, and the expansion of the musical capacity of the instrument. The birth of the new bells is one of the high points of the yearlong Dutch “75 Years of Freedom” campaign, which highlights the Dutch gratitude toward the liberators of the Netherlands in World War II, including the United States, and celebrates the fact that freedom was restored.
The new bells are dedicated to three influential Americans whose legacy impacted the world, including the Netherlands, during and after World War II: Secretary George C. Marshall, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt.
The largest bell is dedicated to Secretary Marshall for his leadership of the Allied victory and the Marshall Plan after World War II. The second bell honors Dr. King for his role as leader of the American civil rights movement. The third bell recognizes former First Lady Mrs. Roosevelt for her role advocating for social justice and human rights.
All three bells, together with the 50 restored bells, will travel to Washington, D.C., after the summer and the upgraded and fully restored Netherlands Carillon will reopen next year.
“I had the honor of visiting Royal Eijsbouts to see the process to restore the bells. It will be a glorious sight to see and hear all 53 bells ring in harmony once they are placed back in the carillon,” said Ambassador André Haspels. “It’s especially fitting that the casting of the new bells coincides with Dutch-American Friendship Day. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the longtime friendship between our two nations.”
The carillon was a gift from the people of the Netherlands to the people of the United States as a gesture of gratitude for America’s contribution to the liberation of the Netherlands and for the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild the Dutch/European economy. The musical instrument was symbolically presented to the United States in 1952.
In 1954, three bell makers delivered 49 bells, which were placed in a temporary tower in Washington, D.C. In 1960, the bells found a permanent home in a 127-foot-tall tower in Arlington Ridge Park in Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, a 50th bell was added to the carillon in 1995.
Here’s a video about the casting of the new bells: