Alexandria, VA – Ever see the Netherlands Carillon or hear the ringing from it? That’s the bell tower adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery.
The tower, unveiled in 1952, was a gift from the Netherlands to the United States. From September 1944 to April 1945, the U.S. Army helped liberate Holland after years of Nazi control, an operation that signaled the end of World War II. The Marshall plan, named after then-Secretary of State George C. Marshall and also known as the European Recovery Program, aided the Dutch people in rebuilding their economy following the war.
Last October, the National Park Service (NPS) and Royal Netherlands Embassy began renovating the 127-foot tower. While the NPS is charged with tower renovation, the Embassy is working to restore the 50 bells kept in the structure. Those bells were sent to Royal Eijsbouts, a bell foundry in the Netherlands.
At that foundry, the casting of three new bells is underway. The first and largest bell was cast on April 19th, the evening before Dutch-American Friendship Day. All three are dedicated to important Americans: Marshall, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Eleanor Roosevelt.
““I had the honor of visiting Royal Eijsbouts to see the process to restore the bells,” said Ambassador André Haspels. It will be a glorious sight to see and hear all 53 bells ring in harmony once they are placed back in the carillon.”
Haspels also noted the importance of the new bells being cast to coincide with Dutch-American Friendship Day. “It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the longtime friendship between our two nations.”
The completely restored Carillon is expected to open next year.