Tuesday, May 11, 2010
On May 5th, the National Park Service, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands jointly sponsored a ceremony to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Netherlands Carillon.
Attending the event where Netherlands Deputy Ambassador Gerard van der Wulp, Air Commodore Tom de Bok of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Shepherd University Professor of History Dr. Walter Powell, Chief Ranger Vincent Santucci, and retired Sergeant Clement Leone, 700th Bomb Squadron, 445th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, a WWII veteran who participated in Operation Market Garden, the battle to liberate the Dutch people from Nazi occupation.
De Bok presented Sgt. Leone with a bronze statue in appreciation of his service, and Santucci presented framed artwork of the Carillon to van der Wulp in commemoration of the anniversary of the Netherlands Carillon.
Dr. Edward M. Nassor, Director-Carillonneure, presented an hour-long recital following the ceremony.
The Netherlands Carillon was a gift from the Dutch people to the people of the United States to expresses the gratitude for American aid received during and after World War II. The carillon symbolizes the friendship between the people of the Netherlands and the United States… a friendship characterized by a common allegiance to the principles of freedom, justice, and democracy. The idea for this symbolic gift came from G. L. Verheul, a Dutch government official in The Hague. When the concept took shape the drive for funds to build the carillon and tower met with generous response from all sections of the Netherlands.
Netherlands Queen Juliana endorsed the project, and on April 4, 1952, during a visit to the United States, she presented a small, silver bell to President Truman as a token of the carillon to come. The queen spoke of the importance of the small bells of the carillon: “To achieve real harmony, justice should be done also to the small and tiny voices, which are not supported by the might of their weight. Mankind could learn from this. So many voices in our troubled world are still unheard. Let that be an incentive for all of us when we hear the bells ringing.”
The carillon was installed in the permanent bell tower in 1960, in Arlington Virginia, and shares the spectacular setting of the United States Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the “Iwo Jima statue”). On May 5, 1960, the 15th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis, the 49 bell carillon was officially dedicated. On February 28, 1995 Prime Minister Wim Kok presented President Clinton the symbolic 50th bell as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands.