Bells for America
The Cold War, Modernism, and the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington
By (author) Diederik Oostdijk
Publication date:12 September 2019
Length of book:256 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
The Netherlands Carillon stands out in the American memorial landscape. Situated between Arlington National Cemetery and the Marine Corps War Memorial, the modernist design of this 127-foot steel bell tower is strangely at odds with its surroundings, much in the same way that its prominent place is at odds with its absence in American memory. In this book, Diederik Oostdijk reveals the intriguing history of this major monument hidden in plain sight.
Given to the United States in the 1950s by the Dutch government as a gesture of gratitude for America’s role in the Dutch liberation during World War II and for the Marshall Plan aid that helped rebuild the Dutch economy, the carillon owes its conspicuous placement to the Cold War. Oostdijk traces the history of this monument, from its creation and the pageantry surrounding its presentation through its fall into disrepair and plans for its renewal. In so doing, he resolves the paradox of the carillon’s placement in Arlington and unearths a fascinating and compelling story of diplomacy and humanity.
Interweaving art history, campanology, landscape architecture, literature, musicology, and diplomatic history, Bells for America recounts how the Netherlands and the United States reconstructed their national identities and fostered an international relationship in the postwar era through public art.
—Henne Schuwer, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the United States