Bell-ringing on the 4th of July a tradition that could be coming back

Eight bronze bells ranging in weigth from 494 pounds to 917 pounds are rung in the Southminster Presbyterian Church in Mt. Lebanon Saturday, October 6, 2012.  The bells, cast in London, were brought to the church and installed between 2000 and 2002.  They swing through a full 360 degree circle beginning with the mouth up.  They are controlled by ringers pulling on ropes in a specific mathematical order.  The result is a pulsating cascade of sound.
Eight bronze bells ranging in weigth from 494 pounds to 917 pounds are rung in the Southminster Presbyterian Church in Mt. Lebanon Saturday, October 6, 2012. The bells, cast in London, were brought to the church and installed between 2000 and 2002. They swing through a full 360 degree circle beginning with the mouth up. They are controlled by ringers pulling on ropes in a specific mathematical order. The result is a pulsating cascade of sound.
Photo by Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review

Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Whatever we're doing at 2 p.m. July Fourth, Carmella LaSpada would love nothing better than for everyone to stop briefly and give the country a ring ... well, several rings!

The founder of the No Greater Love foundation, which honors troops, veterans and the fallen and their families, fears that we, as Americans, may be losing a sense of unity and our connection to the past.

That's why she is trying to resurrect the tradition of bell-ringing on the 4th of July. And what better time, she says, than at 2 p.m., when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776?

“It's a way to celebrate our freedom and those wonderful lives that were sacrificed for us, and a way for us as Americans to connect as Americans and who we are and where we came from,” says the West Chester, Chester County, native who now lives in Washington, D.C.

Plus, ringing bells represents not only “a lot of symbolism,” but it also is a lot of fun, she says.

“Those who died and sacrificed wanted us to be joyful and celebrate our freedom about living in the greatest country in the world,” LaSpada says. “That's the American spirit. That sense of unity is really important.”

The bell-ringing connects us to our forefathers, she says, by using the same instrument of freedom, the bell, they used to announce and celebrate the founding of our nation.

Not to worry if you think you don't have anything to ring, she says. “If nothing else, just say ‘ding dong,' ‘ding dong,' ‘ding dong,' three times, or shake your keys,” she says.

Hand bells, cowbells, sleigh bells, school bells, church bells, carillons, fire sirens and ship bells also will nicely deliver the message, LaSpada says, “You also can tap something on a glass to make it ring. It doesn't cost any money to participate,” she says.

LaSpada, who worked as a special-projects aide in the White House from 1962 until 1971, says it was 50 years ago this year that President John F. Kennedy called for the ringing of bells every year on Independence Day. Many forgot to keep the tradition going, she says, so, “Let's start it again.”

Not only do many take the holiday for granted, “We take too much for granted,” she says. “I asked a young person what Memorial Day meant, and he said, ‘That's the day the pool opens.' He didn't have a clue.”

She believes ringing a bell on the 4th of July will focus on the concepts of freedom and sacrifice.

Joining No Greater Love this year in supporting the cause will be the National Cartoonists Society, Iron Workers, International Association of Fire Fighters and Sheet Metal Workers Union. “I would like to see more organizations joining next year to make it bigger and better,” she says.

A video on the project can be found on YouTube; search Carmella LaSpada.

LaSpada, who once lived near former Pittsburgh Pirates' manager Danny Murtaugh, also is reaching out to her contacts in baseball to ring out the celebratory message.

Details: www.ngl.org

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