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While the bells’ tones varied, the message behind the ringing Tuesday did not as Wilsonians celebrated the 232nd anniversary of the United States Constitution’s signing.
“Like the Fourth of July, we want to remember it and celebrate it,” said Adele VanOverbeke, regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Thomas Hadley Chapter. “The Declaration of Independence says who we are and the Constitution says how we’re going to do it.”
On Sept. 17, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time. VanOverbeke said that when the delegates announced the signing at 4 p.m., bells across Philadelphia began to toll and in that memory, cities across the country celebrate the signing at the same time by ringing bells as well.
“The ringing of bells is like fireworks on the Fourth of July,” VanOverbeke said. “It is a way to commemorate the occasion.”
The DAR helped establish a national Constitution Week each Sept. 17-23. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill commemorating the anniversary week in 1956. Tuesday marked Wilson’s third public Constitution Day bell-ringing. World War II veteran Horace Goff and his wife Thelma attended the event for the second time.
“I think we need to remember the birth of our nation and the laws on which it was founded,” Horace Goff said.
VanOverbeke encouraged attendees to commemorate the sacrifices of local Vietnam veterans by purchasing a wreath for $15 as part of the Wreaths Across America project this Christmas. Barnes Trucking of Wilson will deliver the wreaths, then Hunt High School Honor Society members will place the wreaths on the graves at Resthaven Cemetery. Visit https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/ for more information on the broader project. Sponsorships through the website will go to Arlington National Cemetery, while wreaths bought from Thomas Hadley DAR members by Dec. 1 will be distributed locally.
“We are proud to honor the United States Constitution and we are proud to be Americans,” VanOverbeke said. “May we all cherish and defend our freedoms and teach them to our children.”