‘Bells across the land’ in Minnesota

Memorabilia from a recent Arrowhead Library guest presentation by Arn Kind about Minnesota's role in the Civil War. (Aaron J. Brown)

Memorabilia from a special presentation about Minnesota’s role in the Civil War put on by historical re-enacter Arn Kind as seen at the Hibbing Public Library in March 2015. (Aaron J. Brown)

On April 9, Americans will mark 150 years since the surrender of Confederate sources to the Union Army in the American Civil War. The divisions that caused the Civil War — primarily slavery and attitudes about the role of government — existed for hundreds of years before the war, and continue in some form today. But the American Civil War was a crucial turning point in checking the power of those who would choose division and suppression of human rights in our national identity.

At 2:15 p.m. CST on April 9, Minnesota will mark the exact time of Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox by ringing bells across the state. Much like the bells that rang around America that day in 1865, these sounds will celebrate the reunion of America and the defeat of tyranny. (There’s information below from Gov. Mark Dayton’s office about how to coordinate participation in the event).

To remind, Minnesota played a crucial role in the Civil War. It was the first state to commit troops after South Carolina seceded from the Union, and that very regiment, the First Minnesota, played a crucial role at the vital battle of Gettysburg, preventing a Confederate victory in a heroic stand that resulted in devastating casualties.

It’s a free country, and people can waive confederate flags if they want, but that act remains a symbol of yesterday’s bondage and treason. Ring those bells. Freedom for all. Remember the First Minnesota. The Union forever.

“Bells Across the Land” to Mark 150 Years Since Symbolic End of Civil War
Governor, Civil War historians ask Minnesotans to participate in commemoration efforts on April 9

ST. PAUL, MN – Minnesota will participate in a nationwide bell-ringing event this April to commemorate the 150th anniversary of events at a Virginia court house which symbolically ended the Civil War.

Churches, temples, schools, city halls, public buildings, historic sites and others throughout the state are invited to ring bells at precisely 2:15 p.m. CDT April 9. The time and date marks a century and a half from when Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant met with Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House in Virginia to set the terms of surrender of Lee’s army.

“Minnesota’s Civil War veterans fought courageously, and made great sacrifices to preserve our Union,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “I want to thank the members of the Civil War Commemoration Task Force for their leadership, and for helping all Minnesotans remember and honor the soldiers who bravely served our state and nation 150 years ago.”

Bells across Minnesota are to toll for four minutes during the commemoration on April 9th, with each minute representing a year of war. The bells will sound at Appomattox 15 minutes ahead of the rest of the nation to coincide with the moment the historic meeting between Grant and Lee ended.

“This is one of the culminating events capping our sesquicentennial observance of the Civil War,” said Civil War Commemoration Task Force co-chair Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township. “April 9, 1865 is a day that changed our country forever and we encourage people throughout Minnesota to join together in remembrance.”

“The end of the Civil War has deep meaning and people may feel a wide range of emotions during this commemoration,” fellow CWTF co-chair Mark Ritchie said. “We ask that citizens take a moment to reflect during this monumental moment in state and national history.”

Organizers of local bell-ringing events are encouraged to assist in efforts to compile a statewide list of participants by emailing Erik Anderson of the Minnesota Historical Society at erik.anderson@mnhs.org.

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