ARLINGTON, VA — Today, the National Park Service and Netherlands Embassy celebrated the 77th anniversary of Liberation Day and the end of a four-year restoration of the Netherlands Carillon. This celebration included remarks from Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands André Haspels and National Park Service Director Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III. The remarks were followed by a Carillon “Freedom” Concert performed by Dutch and American carillonneurs, accompanied by the Washington Symphonic Brass.
“As stewards of many of the stories of our nation’s history, the National Park Service strives to connect us as a people and a nation to our past for a better future,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “The Netherlands Carillon, like the Statue of Liberty, is a gift and a tangible representation of an intangible ideal: freedom; the principle that binds the people of the United States and the Netherlands past, present and future.”
The Carillon was a gift to the United States following WWII, symbolizing Dutch gratitude to the American people for helping liberate the Netherlands and providing aid to rebuild the Dutch economy through the Marshall Plan.
“We are here today, Liberation Day in the Netherlands, to celebrate our freedom as well as the completion of the renovation and expansion of the Netherlands Carillon. The people of the Netherlands gave the carillon to the people of the United States to thank them for their role restoring their freedom during and after World War II. We thank the veterans of World War II for their bravery on the battlefield an ocean away and the women who helped the war effort from home in the States.” said Ambassador André Haspels of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “It is my hope that every time the bells of the Carillon chime in perfect harmony, the American people know they have the eternal gratitude of my nation.”
Liberation Day marks the end of the occupation of the Netherlands by Germany during World War II. The Netherlands Carillon was a gift to the people of the United States from the people of the Netherlands. The Carillon symbolizes the friendship between the people of two countries, rooted in common allegiance to the principles of freedom, justice and democracy.
The project itself, which started in 2019 represents the same friendship that is symbolized by the Carillon. The NPS was responsible for the rehabilitation of the structure while the Embassy took on upgrades to the musical instrument. In 2020, 50 bells were shipped to the Netherlands to be tuned and the three new bells were cast. Last spring, all 53 bells were lifted into the structure elevating the Netherlands Carillon to “grand carillon” status.
In 1954, the first bells were installed in the Carillon, which was then located in West Potomac Park. Since 1960, the Netherlands Carillon has stood adjacent to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington Ridge Park. Throughout the year, people attend live concerts of jazz, pop and patriotic music performed by carillonneurs.
This year, the NPS will offer weekly Carillon Concerts starting on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. Each following concert will take place on Saturday through Labor Day. The Labor Day concert will be held on Monday, September 5. Members of the public are encouraged to come an hour early to learn about the history, physics, and meaning of the instrument. Saturday concerts begin at 6 p.m., and the two Monday concerts begin at 3 p.m.