Arlington’s Netherlands Carillon closer to being restored

A large bell was hoisted into the steel bell tower of Arlington’s Netherlands Carillon. The restoration project is now one step closer to completion. (WTOP/Matt Small)

Another piece of the Netherlands Carillon restoration came together Thursday as a heavy, large bell was hoisted into the steel bell tower near Rosslyn in Virginia.

The Marshall Bell, which measures just 5 feet in diameter and weights more than 7,500 pounds, was lifted by a crane before a crowd of onlookers during a morning ceremony at Arlington Ridge Park, which overlooks the Potomac River.

“The Marshall Bell is a symbol of the gratitude the Dutch people hold for the United States and the aid it provided the Netherlands,” said André Haspels, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The bell, which is three times heavier than the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, is named in honor of former Secretary of State George C. Marshall, according to the National Park Service.

It is one of three new bells, in addition to the 50 already part of the carillon that are being added to the music-making monument.

When restoration of the steel bell tower is finished this fall and all 53 bells are installed — including new ones for Martin Luther King Jr. and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt — it will become a “grand carillon.”

And when all the bells chime “they will amplify the harmony between our two nations,” Haspels said.

The National Park Service and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands began the restoration of the carillon in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic crippled much of the world.

Fifty bells were shipped to the Netherlands to be tuned and the three new bells were cast there this year.

“The National Park Service is proud to serve as a steward of this enduring symbol of the partnership between the Netherlands and the United States,” George Washington Memorial Parkway Superintendent Charles 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.”

“Secretary of State George Marshall was the architect of the European Recovery Plan, which laid the foundation for Europe to rebuild after World War II,” Haspels said.

The National Park Service said the first bells were installed in the carillon in 1954, which was then located in West Potomac Park. Since 1960, the carillon has been next to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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