United States: ‘Bells for America’ will ring again for freedom

United States: ‘Bells for America’ will ring again for freedom

Two books (in English and Dutch) have been published about the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington and this shared Dutch-North American history.

All 50 bells of the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington are back home in the Netherlands. They are currently being retuned at the bell foundry of Royal Eijsbouts in Asten. Later this year they will return to the United States of America, along with three new bells that are especially cast to celebrate 75 years of Dutch freedom from the German occupation during the Second World War.

A symbol of gratitude 

Professor Diederik Oostdijk of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam published two books about the history of this unusual Dutch gift. The carillon is housed in a modernist bell tower and situated next to the famous Arlington National Cemetery, with a view of important American national monuments in Washington D.C. The Dutch gifted the Netherlands Carillon to thank the United States for helping liberate the country during the Second World War and for the Marshall Aid the Netherlands received in the postwar years. 

Publications on shared cultural heritage

The exhibition ‘Bells for America’ at the Klok & Peel Museum in Asten has been postponed because of the corona virus pandemic, but Oostdijk’s books about this shared heritage are now available: ‘Bells for America’ (Penn State University Press, 2019) and ‘Klokken voor Amerika’ (Boom, 2020). They show the uphill struggle that it was to erect a Dutch monument in the United States. Despite all the crises that the Netherlands Carillon experienced, all of its 53 bells will soon chime harmoniously for peace.

This project was supported by DutchCulture’s Shared Cultural Heritage Matching Fund

This article was written by Diederik Oostdijk.