Replica bell comes through city

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

The Traveling Liberty Bell was escorted through Tucumcari Wednesday by the American Legion.

The bell, cast in 1976, is a replica of the original Liberty Bell, said Belladeer David Hall.

It is moved across the country in order for soldiers, veterans and their families to hear the sound of liberty, Hall said.

Escorting the bell were 150 legacy riders, who stopped off in Tucumcari en route to the legion’s annual convention, held this year in Phoenix.

On the way, the riders are participating in the third annual American Legion Legacy scholarship run. Its intent is to provide college scholarships for the children of soldiers killed during American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said former Connecticut American Legion Director Gerry Wright.

Wright estimates college costs will be more than $100,000 by the time most of those children are college-age, and the goal is to have a purse of at least $20 million.

In the past three years the riders have collected $800,000 for this scholarship, Wright said.

Bell escort Bob Morrison said he traveled with the bell since the run started Sunday in Indianapolis.

“We have traveled 1,318 miles,” he said. “We began our trip from the North Webster American Legion Post 235.”

Wright, a Vietnam veteran, rang the bell in honor of a fallen friend. Hall said the bell is sounded to honor the memory of a fallen soldier to give hope for the protection and safe return of a solider in combat.

When the bell was visited in Independence Hall soldiers would say two prayers. The first was for the success of the Mission and the protection of the soldiers. The second was for the protection of the country men who cared for the soldiers family while they were gone and for the soldiers quick return, Hall said.

Bell Facts

Weight: 2,080 pounds

Height: (lip to crown) 3 feet

Circumference: (lip) 12 feet

Thickness: (lip) 3 inches

Clapper weight: 44.5 pounds

Clapper height: 3 feet, 2 inches

Bell Tone: E-flat