A Sign of Lasting Friendship
G. L. Verheul, a Dutch government official in The Hague, first advocated for a gift to symbolize Dutch-American friendship. The concept took shape, and a fundraising campaign to cast the bells met with a generous response in the Netherlands. Queen Juliana endorsed the project, and on April 4, 1952, she visited the United States to present a small silver bell to President Truman as a token of the carillon to come. In ceremonies at Meridian Hill Park in Washington, DC, the queen spoke of the importance of the small bells of the carillon:
"To achieve real harmony, justice should be done also to the small and tiny voices, which are not supported by the might of their weight. Mankind could learn from this. So many voices in our troubled world are still unheard. Let that be an incentive for all of us when we hear the bells ringing."
Two years later 49 bells arrived and were installed in a temporary tower in West Potomac Park, where they were formally accepted by the United States. A permanent tower was built near the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, the bells were installed, and an official dedication was held on May 5, 1960—the 15th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis.