As a thank you for the assistance during World War II, the people of Netherlands, from all over the country, joined together to raise funds and commission a bell tower. While the project garnered overwhelming support, it would take time to cast the bells.
In 1952 during a visit to Washington, DC, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands presented a small silver bell that fit in the palm of her hand to President Truman. Her reminder, so poignant right after the brutal war.
To achieve real harmony, justice should be done also to the small and tiny voices, which are not supported by the might of their weight. Mankind could learn from this. So many voices in our troubled world are still unheard. Let that be an incentive for all of us when we hear the bells ringing."
It would take until 1960, eight more years until the 49 bell carillon was completed and installed near the Marine Corps Memorial. The carillon and tower were dedicated on May 5, the 15th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis.
The bells range in size from 6'9" in diameter to 8" with each bell representing a different part of Dutch society. The treble bell as the smallest represents the children. All the bells are carved with verses from Ben van Eysselsteijn, a Dutch poet. The open steel tower stands tall at 127' and is guarded by two bronze lions at the base, surrounded in the spring by tulips.
VISITING THE TOWER:
The tower grounds are open year round 6am-midnight, though guests are no longer allowed to climb the tower steps.
The peaceful surroundings and the shade of the tower provide a perfect place for a picnic. There are toilets, water fountains and trashcans between the carillon and the Marine Corps Memorial.
Please remember this is a memorial. Kite flying, ball games, etc are discouraged.
The best time to visit is either 12pm on 6pm to hear a computer generated playing of the bells. Depending on the day and time the bells play a combination of
- Star-Spangled Banner
- America the Beautiful
- Eternal Father, Strong To Save (the Navy Hymn)
- Wilhelmus (the Dutch national anthem)
- Stars and Strips Forever
- or holiday songs as appropriate
Guest artist Lisa Lonie plays Frolic from "Music for Twilight" by Frank DellaPenna. This recording was made in August 2012.
During the summer (end of May - beginning of September), live concerts are held at 6pm on Saturdays (some exceptions apply!). These two hour events involve pop, jazz and classical music played on the carillon by visiting carillonneurs.
The concerts are free and space is first come first serve on the plaza and surrounding grounds.
GETTING TO THE NETHERLANDS CARILLON:
If you're visiting Arlington National Cemetery, the carillon is only a short walk from the Ord Gate in Section 27 by the northern side of the cemetery. From where our Arlington National Cemetery walking tour ends, it is an easy and generally straight 5-7 minute walk.
The Carillon is near the Marine Corps Memorial. Easily accessible from VA 110 or US 50, both have signs leading to the Marine Corps Memorial, where you can find parking to visit both.
Rosslyn (Orange/Blue/Silver) and Arlington National Cemetery (Blue) Metro Stations are 10-15 minute walk away from the Netherlands Carillon.