“The Port is Near, the Bells I Hear, the People all Exulting”
The sound of bells in the city of Charleston announced secession in December 1860. The tolling of bells served as a rallying point for Americans throughout the war. Soldiers marched off from their homes and some returned for final burial to the sound of bells. Bells marked important victories and the arrival of a slain president on his journey home.
Now the National Park Service wants to mark the end of the Civil War sesquicentennial with the ringing of bells throughout the nation.
In conjunction with a major event at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, the National Park Service and its partners invite communities across the nation to join in this commemoration. The bells will ring first at Appomattox at 3:00 p.m. on April 9, 2015. The ringing will coincide with the moment the historic meeting between Grant and Lee in the McLean House at Appomattox Court House ended. While Lee’s surrender did not end the Civil War, the act is seen by most Americans as the symbolic end of four years of bloodshed.
I can’t think of a more appropriate way to mark the 150th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox (which all but assured that our Union would be preserved) and the end of the sesquicentennial.
Churches throughout the North celebrated the end of the war with the ringing of church bells. One hundred and fifty years later Americans throughout the nation have an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the end of the war and its continued legacy. It is very likely that many older towns will use the same bells that announced the end of the war beginning on April 9, 1865.
Once again, a tip of the hat to our National Park Service.