The bells are ringing again at a beloved monument overlooking the National Mall. The Netherlands Carillon is being rededicated Thursday following a three-year renovation.
The carillon, a 1952 gift from the Dutch people in gratitude of the United States’ help during and after World War II, is perched on a hillside in Arlington Ridge Park near the Iwo Jima Memorial, offering sweeping vistas of the National Mall. It’s a popular spot to view the July Fourth fireworks.
The National Park Service renovated the 127-foot-tall open steel tower and the bells underwent full restoration in the Netherlands.
“Those bells, 50 in total, were brought back to the Netherlands for renovation. They were renovated there, in a small place in the southern part of the Netherlands, also they were put back in tune again, because the sound, of course, is very important when it comes to a carillon,” said André Haspels, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
During the restoration, three bells were added to the array. One was named for George Marshall, the World War II general and later Secretary of State who gave name to the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Europe from the ravages of World War II, and the other two bells are named for Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt for their work in civil and human rights.
“If you have 53 bells, all together, it raises the status of carillon to the status of Grand Carillon,” Haspels said.
The set of bells can play familiar tunes, controlled by a player on a keyboard in the tower. Following the three-year renovation, the Netherlands Carillon Summer concert series will return on June 4, offering free concerts Saturday evenings through the summer.
The completion of work on the Netherlands Carillon is being celebrated on Liberation Day, the Day the Dutch people celebrate freedom from Nazi occupation during World War II.
“We celebrate liberation, but we also pay tribute to the courageous Ukrainian people … we realize that while we were liberated the world is not liberated from aggression … and violations of international law,” Haspels said.
At Thursday’s program, Ukraine Ambassador Oksana Markova is scheduled to deliver remarks.