Bells to Half-Muffle in Tribute to Americans Lost to COVID-19

Today, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation directing the flag of the United States to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of the more than 500,000 Americans who have died from the virus COVID-19. As flags are lowered, he will be joined at sunset by the First Lady, the Vice President, and the Second Gentleman for a moment of silence at the White House. Flags are to remain at half-staff until sunset on February 26, 2021.

Accordingly, the National Bell Festival encourages bells and bell towers across the nation to half-muffle their bells in unified tribute. More Americans have died in a single year of this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. It is both fitting and proper that we reflect on our nation’s great loss and honor their memory in this way. 

A Note on Half-Muffling

To half-muffle a bell, a thick leather pad is placed on one side of the clapper of each bell. This allows a resonant open strike followed by a muffled tone when the bell is rung, producing a very sonorous and mournful effect. At each toll of the bell, we are invited to remember the loss, to unite around our common cause of defeating this pandemic, and to begin to heal as a nation.