Patriotic Clangor from Sea to Shining Sea

For as long as Americans have let freedom ring, bells have been tolling the history of our nation. In prosperity or hardship, peace or conflict, the simple act of ringing a bell has united us around our common destiny.

Here, we’ve collected a few historic photographs that showcase these bell moments – with special thanks to our friends at the National Archives, Smithsonian Institution, and Independence National Historical Park.

Gardener Working on the White House Grounds Rings a Bell

A man leans out the window of a building within the executive complex on Sept. 12, 1922, to summon White House gardeners by ringing a bell. The bell would ring four times a day to announce the hour for beginning and quitting work, both before and after lunch.

CDR Rominger in Hatch with ISS Ship's Bell

American astronaut and International Space Station Commander Kent Rominger, while orbiting during Space Shuttle mission STS-96, floats into the Unity connecting module (also known as Node 1) holding the ship's bell.

Barack Obama Rings a Bell in Myanmar

President Barack Obama rings the 42-ton Tharrawaddy Min Bell (also known as the Maha Tissada Gandha, which means “Great Three-toned Sweet Sound”) on November 19, 2012, during a tour of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. The bell was donated in 1841 by King Tharrawaddy of the Konbaung Dynasty and features 44 lbs. of gold plating.

Children Ring a Bell in Valdivostok, Russia

U.S. Navy Information Systems Technician Third Class Antonio Velasco shows children from the Boarding School No. 1 Orphanage how to ring the ceremonial bell on the main deck of the Amphibious Command Ship USS Blue Ridge during the ship's visit at Valdivostok, Russia, on July 6, 2006, in an effort to foster camaraderie between the U.S. Navy and Russian Navy.

Boy and Girl Scouts Ringing Liberty Bell Replica

A Boy Scout and Girl Scout ring a replica of the Liberty Bell at the Harry S. Truman Library on July 4, 1959.

 

Bell Rings on Anniversary of US Constitution

Representing the youngest and oldest men assigned to the ship, Seaman Eric Daye, 18, (left) and Master Chief Petty Officer Adrian Dotson, 57, (center) ring the bell aboard the battleship USS Wisconsin on Sept. 17, 1987, in honor of the 200th anniversary celebration of the signing of the Constitution of the United States.

Bell Rings During September 11 Memorial Service

The traditional five bell salute is given during a memorial service on Sep. 11, 2012, at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, for the 343 firefighters fallen during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Thomas Edison poses with the Liberty Bell in San Francisco

Thomas Edison poses with the Liberty Bell in San Francisco, 1915, after a whistle-stop tour brought the bell from Philadelphia to some 275 cities across America. During the four-month excursion, nearly a quarter of the nation’s population turned out to see the bell roll past on the custom-built Liberty Bell Special, the best-cushioned rail car in history.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nina Roulhac rings a replica Liberty Bell

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nina Roulhac, 436th Aerial Port Squadron and a member of the Honor Guard at Dover Air Force Base, rings a bell during the opening ceremony for the Philadelphia 76ers basketball game on May 1, 2002, at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

President Truman Waits for Queen Juliana to Present a Carillon of Bells

President Harry S. Truman (left) with First Lady Bess W. Truman (right) at Meridian Hill Park, Washington, D.C., on April 4, 1952. Standing together with Edward J. Kelly, Superintendent of National Capital Parks (center), they await the arrival of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who will present the gift of a carillon to the people of the United States.

A member of the Offutt Air Force Base Honor Guard rings a bell

A member of the Offutt Air Force Base Honor Guard rings a bell in remembrance of fallen heroes at the memorial service and opening ceremony for the Tuskegee Airmen, 33rd Annual National Convention, held at the Hilton, Qwest Convention Center in Omaha, Nebraska, on August 4, 2004.

Veterans promote the buying of government bonds during the third Liberty Loan campaign

Soldiers who served under General Pershing gather around New York Mayor John Francis Hylan in April 1918 (central figure, within an oversized Liberty Bell prop) to promote the buying of government bonds during the third Liberty Loan campaign to help cover the mounting World War I expenses of the United States.

The fog bell at Governors Island in New York Harbor

The fog bell at Governors Island, New York Harbor, at the turn of the twentieth century. Erected in 1873 on the northwest sea-wall of the island, the bell signaled nearby craft by striking a double blow every 20 seconds when poor weather hindered visibility.

President Ronald Reagan rings a bell on April 6, 1988, at Rancho del Cielo, the California vacation home he and First Lady Nancy Reagan favored.

View of one of the two bells used on the battleship USS Arizona

A view of one of the two bells used on the battleship USS Arizona, which sank on December 7, 1941, when Japanese torpedo bombers dropped armor-piercing bombs during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The bell, placed at the entrance to the USS Arizona Memorial, stands guard in this photo over the 40th anniversary commemoration ceremony on December 7, 1981, in Hawaii.

Youth from the Oglala Sioux Tribe in a goat club, April 1937, with an alert bell rising above the South Dakota plains.

Youth from the Oglala Sioux Tribe in a goat club, April 1937, with an alert bell rising above the South Dakota plains.

President Gerald R. Ford initiates the ringing of Bicentennial bells across the nation

President Gerald R. Ford initiates the ringing of Bicentennial bells across the nation on July 4, 1976, from the flight deck of the USS Forrestal with American Revolution Bicentennial Administration Administrator, John Warner.

Bell Ringers in Seattle during the 4th Liberty Loan drive to support the Allied cause in World War I.

Bell Ringers in Seattle during the 4th Liberty Loan drive (1918) to support the Allied cause in World War I. As a reproach for subscriptions coming in too slowly, bells were afterwards muffled.

US Marines stand in formation around a bell during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Statue of Liberty.

U.S. Marines stand in formation around a bell on July 4, 1986, during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Statue of Liberty.