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ArlingtonFestivities to mark rebirth of Netherlands Carillon

Festivities to mark rebirth of Netherlands Carillon

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A community event and Freedom Concert to mark the rededication of the Netherlands Carillon adjacent to the U.S. Marine War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial) will be held on Thursday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to noon.

The date marks the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by Allied Forces during World War II. The carillon was a gift to the American people from the people of the Netherlands to thank the U.S. and its people, and recently underwent a major restoration effort.

The event is free, but registration is requested at https://nlintheusa.com.
• • •

Coverage from May 2021 of the renovation project:

For six decades, the Netherlands Carillon has been neighbor of the U.S. Marine War Memorial (better known to the public as the Iwo Jima Memorial) in Arlington. And soon, the carillon will be ringing out with more and newly renovated bells.

The National Park Service on May 20 [2021] lifted the new Marshall Bell into the carillon, celebrating a milestone renovation effort.

When the restoration is completed this fall and all 53 bells are in place, the Netherlands Carillon will have earned the designation “grand carillon.”

Ambassador André Haspels of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and George Washington Memorial Parkway Superintendent Charles Cuvelier signaled a crane to lift the Marshall Bell, which measures 5 feet in diameter and weighs more than 7,500 pounds (three times heavier than the Liberty Bell). The bell is named in honor of Secretary of State George C. Marshall, and is decorated with classic Dutch images including windmills, cheese carriers, the country’s coat of arms and a “75 Years of Freedom” logo.

“George Marshall was the architect of the European Recovery Plan, which laid the foundation for Europe to rebuild after World War II. The Marshall Bell is a symbol of the gratitude the Dutch people hold for the U.S. and the aid it provided the Netherlands,” Ambassador Haspels said. “As the Marshall Bell is raised, it will soon be joined by 52 other bells. And when those bells chime, they will amplify the harmony between our two nations.”

Two additional new bells – named in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and humanitarian and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – will be added to the carillon for the first time later this year.

The National Park Service, in partnership with the Dutch embassy, started the restoration of the carillon in 2019. Fifty bells were shipped to the Netherlands to be tuned, and the three new bells were cast there in 2020. The restoration is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

“The National Park Service is proud to serve as a steward of this enduring symbol of the partnership between the Netherlands and the U.S.,” Cuvelier said. “We look forward to completing the restoration of the Netherlands Carillon later this year and sharing its music with visitors and the community once again.”

In 1954, the first bells were installed in the carillon, which was then located in West Potomac Park in the District of Columbia. Since 1960, the carillon has stood adjacent to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington Ridge Park.

The idea of giving thanks to the American people for their support of the Netherlands, during its occupation by Nazi forces in World War II and during rebuilding after the war, was conceived by Dutch official G.L. Verheul, with support of the country’s people, who funded the effort.
On April 4, 1952, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands while on a visit to Washington presented President Truman with a small silver bell to mark what was to come.

The tower housing the carillon was designed by Joost W. C. Boks, a leading Dutch architect. It is an open steel structure reinforced by steel plates. The tower is approximately 127 feet high, 25 feet deep and 36 feet wide. It stands on a quartzite plaza 93 feet square and is enclosed by a low, lava-stone wall.

Two bronze lions, designed by Dutch sculptor Paul Koning, guard the plaza steps. A rectangular staircase leads to an observatory platform from which a small circular staircase winds up to the glass-enclosed playing cabin 83 feet above the ground. Planted on the surrounding grounds are thousands of flowers, including tulip bulbs in the springtime.

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