Dear Readers: Happy Fourth of July! Here's a little information on the Liberty Bell that we gleaned from the U.S. Department of State Web site:
In 1752, the new bell arrived safely from England, but at the first blow from a hammer to test it, it cracked. Philadelphia bell founders recast the bell twice before it was finally ready to use.
On July 8, 1776, the bell rang to mark the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. On April 16, 1783, it announced the proclamation of peace after the Revolutionary War. At every event of national importance, the Liberty Bell rang: in 1789, the election of George Washington; in 1797, the election of John Adams; in 1799, the death of Washington; and in 1801, the election of Thomas Jefferson.
On July 4, 1826, the bell was nearly three quarters of a century old, and the nation was 50. Then, on July 8, 1835, while tolling for the funeral procession of John Marshall, chief justice of the Supreme Court and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the bell cracked.
Fearing that the crack would eventually destroy the historic bell, officials ordered it taken down from the tower. It was after this that the Liberty Bell received its name. Since then, the bell has been on display but has never rung. The crack that appeared on that occasion is prevented from widening by a mechanical device, called a spider, installed inside the bell.
A few years ago, the bell foundry in London that originally cast the great bell made a friendly proposal -- to ship the bell back to England, melt it and recast it at no cost to the United States. The keepers of the bell considered the offer very seriously before they decided that the cracked Liberty Bell is a cherished symbol of America's struggle for freedom. Therefore, on behalf of the American people, the officials thanked the London foundry for its generous offer but refused, adding: "We like the bell as it is, crack and all. It is an important part of our heritage."
Dear Annie: I know that you have talked about this subject in your column before, but I think it is time for an update about military members returning home.
My husband has been deployed to the Middle East for a year and will soon be home. The problem is that family members on both sides want to visit us shortly after his return. This is causing a lot of stress.
Please tell parents and siblings of returning military members not to be offended that we are not ready for a visit. After a year apart, we are going to have to put our family back together, and it takes more than a couple of weeks.
We love our families, but my husband and I need to get reacquainted, too. Thank you for letting me vent. Burned-Out Wife
Dear Burned Out: Letting our readers vent is part of what we do. We hope parents and other family members will respect your needs and give you time to readjust. Frequent phone calls will help. Try to understand, though, how difficult it is for parents and siblings to keep their distance. They want to be considerate of your time together, but they are on pins and needles waiting for an invitation to see their loved one, who has been away from home, in a dangerous place, for a year. Don't forget to make a little time for the rest of the family to say "welcome home."
Annie's Snippet for Independence Day: "Democracy is like a raft: It won't sink, but you will always have your feet wet." Russell B. Long
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