Delegate Diary: The Liberty Bell is a Perfect Symbol for an Imperfect Process

Note: I am currently serving as a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  I will be posting a daily diary with some of my thoughts and experiences at the convention.  To see more of my coverage, like my page on Facebook.


by Bob Aagard
by Bob Aagard

One of my first stops here in Philadelphia was the Liberty Bell.  I had often wondered why a cracked bell is used as a symbol of America.

The bell was originally made in England for use in the Pennsylvania State House (Now known as Independence Hall).  When it was first rung, the bell cracked.  It was melted down and recast.  When the recasting was rung for the first time, it sounded horrible, so it was melted and recast again.

This recasting was the bell we know today, sans crack.  Contrary to popular belief, the bell was not likely rung on July 4, 1776, due to the poor condition of the steeple.  The bell was removed from the steeple and moved to Allentown prior to the British Occupation of Philadelphia to prevent it from being melted down to create ammunition.

Due to use and some imperfections in the twice-recast bell, it became forever cracked sometime in the early 19th century.  In the 1830s, it was used as a symbol for the abolitionist movement, using the inscription found on the bell “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” to point out that Liberty had not been found for all the inhabitants.  This was also when it was first called the Liberty Bell.  Later, it would be used as a symbol for the Suffrage and Civil Rights movements.

I now know why it is such a perfect symbol: because America is imperfect.  Take our process of electing our President.  From primaries and caucuses to delegates and conventions and dark horse third-party candidates to the electoral college.  This is far from perfect.  Is it any wonder that both major parties have nominated such unpopular people this year?

However, this is the system we have, and I am honored to have a unique place in the process. Delegates are coming from every state and territory to set the course for the Democratic Party.  We all bring thoughts of home with us, no matter where we call home.

Me? I’m bringing a family history of real religious persecution, including being driven out of the United States.  I bring my family members who have both benefited by Obamacare and been harmed by the imperfections of Obamacare.  I bring hope that maybe, possibly, we can fix what’s wrong while celebrating what’s right.

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