NEWS ADVISORY: Belltower Memorial on National Mall Memorial Day Weekend

NEWS ADVISORY: Belltower Memorial on National Mall Memorial Day Weekend – Visitors May Add Inscriptions and Ring Bell

Contact: Roger Ehrlich (919) 696-5995

This Memorial Day weekend on the National Mall, the public is invited to add inscriptions to a 24-ft-tall touring Memorial, the Swords to Plowshares Memorial Belltower.  For the past 5 years the Memorial has been a favorite of many visitors to the mall because anyone is free to add a silver memorial plaque (handmade from recycled cans) and ring the bell.  It is designed to memorialize not only the dead and wounded of one nation, but the effects of war on people of all nations. By allowing people to freely memorialize the impacts of war on everybody, the sponsors hope to help prevent suicide related to moral injury and future trauma from war.

The following 3′ 30″ intro video may be posted on News Media websites or excerpted for broadcast purposes. The Belltower will be raised in dramatic fashion on Saturday around noon, and be open to the public through 9 pm on Memorial Day.  On Memorial Day morning, Veterans For Peace will host a ceremony at the Belltower at 9 a.m.and then solemnly proceed by foot to the Vietnam Memorial to deliver open ‘Letters to the Vietnam Wall’ at 10:30 a.m.  Volunteers will be on hand to assist visitors in creating memorial plaques and to record interviews with those who wish to share their stories.  A new addition this year is a traveling color photo exhibit with interview excerpts from prior Belltower visitors that was made possible by a 2017 grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council.

The project was initiated by Veterans For Peace to mark the Centennial of WWI and semi-centennial of the Vietnam War. It is dedicated to ALL victims and veterans of war from ALL nations. It is an effort to bring back the original healing spirit of Memorial Day when orphans and widows placed flowers on both Union and Confederate graves in Arlington Cemetery.  The Belltower will be erected Saturday morning near Lincoln Memorial directly across Memorial bridge from Arlington. Belltower location

Visitors are free to ring the bell and add inscriptions to windblown silver memorial plaques – handmade from recycled aluminum cans – to bear witness to how they, or those close to them, have been affected by war. The inscriptions from previous installations are in many different languages and tell the toll of war not only in terms of death and physical injuries, but hidden wounds on all sides.

The Swords to Plowshares name is taken from the bronze door of a WWI Belltower in Raleigh NC that inspired it, with the Old Testament passage (Isaiah 2:4) which is taken as prophetic by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others, about converting weaponry to peaceful purposes to prevent future wars.  November 11th, 2018, was the Centennial of the Armistice that was supposed to end “The War to End All Wars” when bells were rung around the world on “The Eleventh Hour.”

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