The National Park Service (NPS) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands today celebrated the start of a project to restore the Netherlands Carillon and add three bells to elevate its status to “grand carillon.”
Ambassador André Haspels of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and George Washington Memorial Parkway Superintendent Charles Cuvelier, National Park Service (NPS), rang hand-held bells to celebrate the beginning of the project and the continued friendship between the U.S. and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
“The Netherlands Carillon is an integral part of Washington’s monumental landscape with a multitude of purposes but for the Dutch, the Carillon symbolizes our gratitude to the US for assistance during and after World War II and represents the friendship our nations continue to share based on the values of freedom, and democracy,” Ambassador Haspels said.
Today the first of 50 bells was removed by crane to make its journey to the Netherlands. Dutch company Royal Eijsbouts will restore the bells. The three new bells and improvements to the carillon instrument, including a new music console and keyboard, are made possible by donations to the Embassy.
“The carillon restoration symbolizes the continued partnership between the Netherlands and the United States,” Superintendent Cuvelier said. “While the bells are being restored in the Netherlands, the National Park Service will repair and replace steel cladding, improve the structure, remove rust and repaint the carillon.” The project is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
The Netherlands Carillon project also signals the start of the Embassy’s initiative, “75 Years of Freedom.” The campaign will include a series of events to commemorate the end of World War II, highlighting the U.S. contributions to the liberation of the Netherlands and celebrating Dutch freedom and transatlantic ties since 1945. On April 4, 1952, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands visited the U.S. to present a small silver bell to President Truman as a token of the carillon that was to come.
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. The bells can also be heard during automated concerts and chiming every 15 minutes. The Embassy marks Dutch Remembrance Day every May 4 by observing a moment of silence and placing a wreath at the base of the carillon.
During today’s ceremony, Diederik Oostdijk, author and historian, spoke about the carillon’s history and how it continues to foster an international relationship through public art.