Out of the many icons to compare the Liberty Bell to, I chose Gettysburg National Park, the site of the arguably most important (or at least-turning point) in the Civil War. I believe it is comparable to The Liberty Bell, even though it is a massive stretch of land, because of its ties to a spirit of liberty and freedom, especially when it comes to liberating the enslaved population.
“The revelation that the new Bell pavilion would be placed upon a site intimately associated with slavery was a symbolic bombshell setting the stage for sustained public dialogue,” Jill Ogline wrote in her article.
It’s possible not everyone sees this connection, but I grew up visiting the battlefields for class trips and with family the way a lot of people in class described visiting the Liberty Bell. Just as the history of the Liberty Bell was cleaned up and made shiny for visitors on its plot in Philadelphia, most of those on the tours around the battle fields focused on the glory of the battle, rather than some of the biggest issues of the Civil War.
There are the true history buffs, though, that don’t peddle the washed-down version of what happened there, just as we learned about the conflict of placing the bell on an area not spoken about but definitely the heart of slave land.
While I’m not sure that as many ideas can be projected on this national park as can be on The Liberty Bell, it appears as another part of the American history the Parks Service deemed important enough to preserve.
While the Bell and Gettysburg’s grounds have these similarities, they have obvious differences in their size, visibility and how they get to be interacted with. The Bell gets to be viewed (and allegedly touched–are we sure we won’t get arrested?) while visitors to Gettysburg get to interact with the grounds wholly.
Most of my childhood days spent visiting my grandparents in appropriately-named Littlestown were accompanied by a 15-minute drive to the battlegrounds to play and picnic on the rocks once used as hiding spots and defense. I can’t say whether or not my visiting the battle grounds as a kid made had any affect on my admiration of history, but it did give me some perspective on the country’s history in the same way I think the Liberty Bell does for a lot of people.
Photo is of Devil’s Den, primary hiding spot during the Civil War and childhood playground for my sister and I. Rredited to TripAdvisor.com.