By David J. Kent
Friday, December 23, 2022
A historic bell will toll 160 times on January 1, 2023, once for each year since Abraham Lincoln signed the final Emancipation Proclamation. The event will be held at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial and the public is welcome to participate for free. Bell ringing begins at 2:30 pm ET and will run about a half hour.
The event is part of the National Bell Festival. There will be brief opening remarks, including a reading of a portion of the Emancipation Proclamation text. Then, 16 individuals will each toll a special bell ten times, for a total of 160 distinct tolls.
The bell featured in the commemorations was cast in bronze by the Fulton Bell Foundry of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1863, the year of the Emancipation Proclamation. According to the National Bell Festival organizers:
With a 32-inch diameter, the bell's sonorous tolls will resonate across the adjacent Reflecting Pool. With each reverberation, we get nearer the promises of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal - a potential, even now, not fully realized.
Lincoln Group of DC members have much to remember this year regarding the Lincoln Memorial. We participated in the annual Lincoln Birthday celebration and laid a wreath at the feet of the iconic Daniel Chester French statue during the February 12th ceremony. Then on May 22nd, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial with a grand program featuring Lincoln scholars, singers, actors, and the United States Marine Band "The President's Own" Brass Quintet. [If you missed it, you can watch the entire program on C-SPAN linked on the main page.] Therefore, it is altogether fitting and proper that we begin the new year by supporting this new event on the Lincoln Memorial steps.
In addition to the tolling of the historic bell and reading of portions of the Proclamation, there will be some surprise special guests. The National Bell Festival will also use the occasion to announce the construction of a new 65-bell tower planned for Washington, DC.
One note about the weather. This is Washington, DC on New Year's Day, so plan to dress appropriately for what is likely to be chilly weather. Feel free to bring a comfortable seating arrangement for the tolling, which should take about a half hour to complete. As always, parking is limited so consider coming early or taking Metro. Since it's a public event and photography and filming are expected, all participants by their attendance grant permission to utilize any incidental images, appearance, and audio without further authorization or compensation.
As president of the Lincoln Group of DC, I plan to attend the event and encourage other Lincoln Group members (and non-members) to do so as well. Not only is this a unique commemoration of one of Abraham Lincoln's greatest achievements, you won't want to miss the announcement of the further planned bell tower.
I hope to see you there.