To honor the 95 members of the United States 116th Congress who have served in the armed forces, local veterans from the Chula Vista Veterans Home rang America’s Freedom Bell on Sunday in a bell-ringing ceremony.
The Freedom Bell hangs at Balboa Park’s Veterans Museum. It has been rung by five million people across the country. It also includes 11 pounds of steel from the World Trade Center Twin Towers, weighing in total, 330 pounds.
The veterans were joined by the Freedom Bell’s designer, Richard Rovsek, Chairman of the Spirit of Liberty Foundation.
“The bell is emotional,” said Rovsek. He also said, requesting and including the steel from the Twin Towers was important to his design.
“My daughter worked literally across the street from the World Trade Center and she left her job the Friday before 9/11 or she would have been in the building when it happened,” described Rovsek. “Between my wife, my daughter and myself, we know over a hundred people who were killed, that’s a lot of people.”
His mission is to honor those who have served their country in the military.
“The bell will be here long after all of us because it is a statement of the U.S. armed forces,” Rovesk added.
U.S. Navy veteran Sid Rick Smith said he was honored to ring the bell for ten names, who were all current members of Congress who served.
“Freedom is alive; that is the message that I think we should carry forth,” said Smith. “The members of Congress who are veterans, we have a closeness to those people. We appreciate those people and we appreciate their service, as they appreciate our service.”
Smith served from 1950 to 1954, including service in the Korean War. He was a hospital core-man. He also worked in the chapel that now houses the Freedom Bell.
The stained glass and shape of the chapel remain the same.
“This was the chapel for the Naval Hospital for many years. I didn’t have any idea that I would be in church today many years later,” Smith said.
He hopes that when people hear the bell ringing they remember why he and those members of congress served their country in the military.