Event welcomes new participants
By Ryan Larsen, Hilltop Times correspondent
/ Published July 07, 2011
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The Northern Utah Chapter of the Air Force Association (AFA) led Utah's participation in the "Let Freedom Ring" National Bell Ringing ceremony at the Nate Mazer Memorial Chapel at the Hill Aerospace Museum on July 4. Maj. (Ret.) Kit K. Workman, vice president of the Utah State AFA and Clearfield High School instructor for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps hosted the ceremony.
"It is important to keep alive the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and what it means for us, especially today," he said. "You look at the words of Thomas Payne, 'These are the times that try men's souls.' Those words are as important today as they were when he wrote them over 200 years ago."
This observance was started by a 1963 congressional resolution decreeing that every year on July 4th, just as the Liberty Bell was rung at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pa., at two o'clock in the afternoon signifying the signing of the Declaration of Independence and birth of the nation, so should other bells be rung throughout the country.
The ceremony has been conducted at the historic chapel at the museum for the last twenty years. The Northern Utah Chapter of the AFA started hosting the event in 2002. The ceremony was begun in Utah by John Lindquist and Nate Mazer, the restored chapel now bears Mazer's name as a memorial.
Keynote speaker at this year's event was Maj. Gen. Kevin Sullivan (Ret.) and former Ogden Air Logistics Center commander. Sullivan gave a brief history of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and told of several individual signers sacrifices. Sullivan said, "As we think back with gratitude and admiration for the men and women who risked all they had for the principles that we still have in this country today, let us also remember the service men and women and their families who have served, sacrificed and died to protect those freedoms."
Also participating in the ceremony were representatives from the organizations of the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution. Among them was Norman McGregor who said, "It is humbling to think about the past and remember all of the sacrifices and the things that have taken place so we enjoy and have this freedom."
McGregor attended the ceremony with his wife and son, Douglas McGregor, who took part in the ceremony along with six others wearing Continental Army Soldier uniforms appropriate to the period. Douglas McGregor has also served as a past president of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Honorary State Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution Janis McCoid has been attending the ceremony for years. This year she attended with her son Arthur McCoid, who said of the ceremony, "It is a family thing, it is country, and it is important. For people who pay attention it is America, it is the starting of America and the continuation of the United States of America and all that we stand for."
The ceremony came to an end at noon with thirteen rings of the chapel bell, one ring for each of the original thirteen colonies. The ringing of the bells reverberates with many others in places such as the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, and Arlington Cemetery. The ringing emulates the ripple of freedom spread throughout the country since its birth. Two hundred and thirty-five years ago the signers of the Declaration of Independence risked their lives, their wealth and the safety of their families for something they felt was right and just.