150 years ago today
At 3:15 p.m. today, Thursday, the 9th of April 2015, all across America, the bells will ring out.
They will actually start just a little before then, sounding alone in a little town in Virginia.
It is called Bells across the Land: A Nation Remembers Appomattox, it’s sponsored by the National Park Service, and it marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the bloodiest conflict this nation has ever known.
It was then, exactly 150 years ago today, on the 9th of April 1865, that the Civil War came to an end.
Then, on that day, in the town of Appomattox Court House in northern Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee formally surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, just about 3 p.m.
So, just after 3 p.m. today, in that same little Virginia town, the very first bell will ring. It’s a bell once owned by former slaves. It will toll for four minutes—one minute for each year of that terrible war. (It’ll be streamed live online if you can tune in…)
And then, at 3:15 p.m., from every corner of this land, the bells will ring out.
They will ring in Boston at the Old North Church.
They will ring in Philadelphia, including the Liberty Bell.
At Richmond’s Capitol Square.
At Chicago’s firehouses.
At Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.
At the Statue of Liberty.
At battlefields, national park sites, national cemeteries, state capitols, county court houses, town halls, historical sites, universities, schools, homes, churches, temples, and mosques around the nation.
Individuals will also be joining in by ringing hand bells and cellphone bells.
I already have my cellphone set up to sound the bells here in Ohio at 3:15 p.m.
And I will bow my head, remembering a terrible war and the losses this nation suffered, that all came to an end, 150 years ago today.