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    Spirit of Liberty Foundation brings Freedom Bell to Pearl Harbor



    Story by Kristen Wong 

    Commander Navy Region Hawaii

    Guests and visitors gathered near the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Dec. 6, to honor the military with a bell-ringing ceremony.

    Members of the Spirit of Liberty Foundation, a nonprofit based in California, brought the Freedom Bell to Hawaii for the occasion.

    “It’s an honor to host the bell and to give the public an opt to ring the bell for their loved ones who served or are serving in the military,” said Chuck Merkel, executive director of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor.

    Richard Rovsek, the chairman of the Spirit of Liberty Foundation, explained how the bell came to exist.

    “It was on a napkin at a restaurant five years ago, May 15,” Rovsek said. “I was sitting with a three star (military officer) who I was having dinner with who was serving in the Pentagon and I drew this (the bell) on a napkin and I said ‘I think we need this to honor the men and women in the armed forces.'”

    The bell was cast on the 69th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2013. The bell contains 11 pounds of metal from the World Trade Center’s twin towers, which were destroyed Sept. 11, 2001. The bell also contains 330 pounds of bronze, 50 stars for each of the states, and the seals of each of the military branches.

    “It’s extremely emotional because (Sept. 11, 2001) was the first attack on this country since Pearl Harbor,” Rovsek said.

    Hawaii Mayor Kirk Caldwell was not present at the ceremony, but Merkel read a prepared statement on his behalf.

    “In trying times we look to our heroes to guide us. Today, we honor those heroes who lived through the most devastating attack in the history of our state. We look to those heroes that are still with us and we honor the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed on December 7, 1941,” the statement read. “It is a day that we will never forget, as it changed our home, our country and the world in vast and dramatic ways that continue to impact us all to this very day.”

    Kahu Kordell Kekoa, ti leaves in hand, gave the bell a Hawaiian blessing.

    Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, recognized former President George H.W. Bush, Ray Chavez and Ray Emory, all World War II veterans who passed away this year.

    “The brave veterans of World War II including my own grandfather who fought in the army in the Philippines and my wife’s grandfather who fought right here in Pearl Harbor gave us a lasting peace all of us who wear the uniform today are committed to preserve,” Fort said. “Guys like Ray Chavez, Ray Emory, certainly guys like Adm. Halsey, submariner Lt. Cmdr. Dick O’Kane, Adm. Nimitz and certainly Lt. j.g. George H.W. Bush, along with countless others those are the guys who forged the future we must always remember their legacy service and certainly their sacrifice particularly here at Pearl Harbor.”

    At the close of the ceremony, Fort was first to ring the Freedom Bell. Then, one by one, guests at the ceremony were encouraged to come forward and ring the bell.

    Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, rang the bell during the 75th anniversary of the attacks. Rovsek said Richardson mentioned “on many occasions how important this bell was to him.”

    “I greatly appreciate that you have taken the time to be here,” Rovsek read on behalf of Richardson. “Our opportunities to express our gratitude to those who served here are rapidly diminishing due to the tyranny of time. Soon, those with memories of that terrible day will be gone. It will be up to us to keep their memories, and their hard-earned lessons alive, and to use their example of valor as an inspiration to us all.”

    “I am also grateful to the Spirit of Liberty Foundation, for the work you do to keep the memories of all our veterans who served alive, veterans such as Ray Chavez, who was at the helm of the minesweeper USS Condor, the first ship to sight a Japanese midget submarine periscope in the pre-dawn hours of (Dec.) 7.”

    After the ceremony, members of the public were welcome to ring the bell each day from 8 a.m. to sunset, through Dec. 8.

    For more information, visit



    Date Taken: 12.14.2018
    Date Posted: 12.14.2018 16:42
    Story ID: 303732
    Location: PEARL HARBOR, HI, US 

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