Two relatively small bells and one enormous bell were unveiled May 5 at the Dutch Embassy, as part of ceremonies marking the ongoing renovation of the Netherlands Carillon, one of metropolitan Washington’s most important landmarks.
The three bells will join 50 others at the 127-foot-high Carillon, a musical instrument situated on a ridge overlooking the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia.
The largest of the three, the Marshall Bell, is named after Secretary George C. Marshall, architect of the landmark Marshall Plan for European postwar recovery. Nearly six feet in diameter and weighing 7,595 pounds, it includes ornaments of classic Dutch images including windmills, the Dutch coat of arms and the “75 Years of Freedom” logo. It was unveiled by Valérie Beaudoin of the International Marshall Center.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Bell weighs 37.5 pounds and was unveiled by Maryann James-Daley, director of the MLK Jr. Library. The smallest of the three, the Eleanor Roosevelt Bell, weighs 26.5 pounds and was unveiled by Tracy Roosevelt, great-granddaughter of the famous humanitarian.
Both the King and Roosevelt bells include their names and the coat of arms of the Netherlands and the United States.
Dutch Ambassador André Haspels and Charles Cuvelier, superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, welcomed guests to the embassy’s outdoor exhibition, “The New Bells of the Netherlands Carillon,” which remained open for three days.
Owned and operated by the National Park Service, the Carillon was endorsed by Queen Juliana, who on April 4, 1952, presented a small silver bell to President Harry S Truman as a token of the carillon to come. Eventually a tower was built for the carillon, which was formally dedicated on May 5, 1960—the 15th anniversary of the Netherlands’ liberation from Nazi occupation.
“It was our way of thanking the United States for her contribution to the liberation of the Netherlands and the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild the European economy after the war,” said Haspels, noting ongoing renovation work by the National Park Service. “To coincide with the renovation, and the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, we decided to add three new bells to the carillon.”
Haspels spoke of the significance of the carillon’s 51st, 52nd and 53rd bells dedicated to Marshall, King and Roosevelt.
“Freedom and justice, which they all vigorously promoted, are values that bind the United States and the Netherlands together,” said the Dutch ambassador. “It is therefore great to have you, the National Park Service, and representatives of organizations dedicated to legacy of these influential people, here today.”