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Don’t touch the Liberty Bell

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While in Philadelphia the other week I visited our Liberty Bell. The National Park Service is charged with the “maintenance” of the bell. People can easily touch our symbol of freedom, and rightly so. 

But why would anyone want to touch it? 

After all, historians tell that it DID NOT ring on July 4, 1776, because the Declaration of Independence was sent to the printers on that day, and was not read until July 8. 

On that day bells rung all over Philadelphia when our founding fathers read it publically,

in defiance of the English Crown. 

But guess what, it is doubtful it rang that day either. 

The steeple and bell tower was in ill repair and it is unlikely the Liberty Bell rung out as legend would have us believe.

Whether it rung or not, on July 4 or 8, it did and still does represent our Declaration of Independence from tyranny and taxation without representation. 

It is a national treasure owned by the city of Philadelphia, not the United States Government.

There are no Laws, ordinances or even rules against touching the Liberty Bell. 

Just one single “recommendation”: Don’t touch the Liberty Bell. 

So what is wrong with not touching the bell? Is Philadelphia concerned that the oils on our hands will cause corrosion to the iron? 

No, nothing like that. They allow children and the blind to touch it. 

Dignitaries and foreign heads-of-state touch it. The Park Service touches it. 

Why can’t you and I touch it? Legally it is okay. Morally it is okay. Ethically it is okay.  There are no signs warning “No Touching.”

We cannot touch the bell because the Park Service has declared the Liberty Bell, which is more than 240 years old, “fragile.” Is there any penalty for touching the bell? No. No penalty at all.

What keeps us from touching the Liberty Bell then? 

The answer is, only our willingness to be passive for assumed authority.

But more important than any of this, is the definition of the word “liberty.” 

Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary says liberty is the quality of being free from arbitrary despotic control or restraint, and the positive enjoyment of life. 

To say the words “Don’t touch the Liberty Bell,” is an oxymoron of the word liberty and the intent of the Declaration of Independence.

It is telling each of us, we do not have the freedom to reach out to the physical symbol of our freedoms. 

Go ahead America, touch your Liberty Bell. It is your right.


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