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Moved By the Bell: Semi-Finalists

What the Liberty Bell means to you.

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Hearts have yearned to be free since Moses led his people out of Egypt. And even now the struggle for freedom continues in Iraq and Afghanistan. How unexpected it is that a cracked bell in Philadelphia should become the world's most powerful material symbol of freedom. Every year over a million visitors and pilgrims come to see it from all corners of the earth.

For me it is most powerful as a memorial to all those great and ordinary people who lost their lives in the struggle for freedom. I hear it tolling silently for Lincoln and Gandhi and King and for the victims of September 11th.
- Mark Ueland, 68, Philadelphia

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Our days are ruled by bells. They wake us and call us to school, work, or worship. Bells open and close our financial markets. They clang for emergencies and toll for marriages and deaths. They are the heralds of our daily lives, ringing in the good and the bad. So it is remarkable that a bell not heard could have such meaning. In it's silence, it speaks to us of all that we treasure. With it's weathered surface and notorious crack, the Liberty Bell is a symbol of us all - imperfect Americans struggling to do right in the world.
- Jennifer Malme, 33, Vineland, NJ

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To me, the Liberty Bell symbolizes the many important freedoms we, as Americans, have in this country, although I do find it ironic that this hugely significant symbol is cracked. But to me, this crack is more important than the actual bell itself. The crack, although it wasn't intended to be there, represents all the people that these freedoms don't apply to, such as people under the age of 18, people that live here but aren't official "citizens", and so on. The crack shows that this country, although it (the bell) is pretty good, there are still problems (the crack.)
- Maya Angele Reid, 13, William Davies School, 8th grade, Mays Landing, NJ

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The Liberty Bell means freedom to everyone. To me freedom means marrying who ever I want to, as well as having freedom of speech, and being able to travel were ever you want to. It also means to do mostly anything you want to do if it's not illegal. Like dancing, singing, touching, having kids etc. Freedom means to be able to wear whatever you want to. That's why we should all be thankful to live in the United States, were we have a lot of freedom to have a good time and enjoy our life.
- Carmen Sotomayor, 13, William Davies School, 8th grade, Mays Landing, NJ

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Look to the past and remember the old days at America, there where slaves being abused as if they where not humans at all. Take a good look at the Liberty Bell, which stands bold and tall and has endless words and stories behind it. Today we take advantage of what we are capable of doing in our lives. We are able to go to work and talk about whatever comes up. Freedom of speech, providing the common welfare for people who aren't as fortunate as others, America provides it all. To live in this country is an absolute honor.
- Kimberly Agapito, 13, William Davies School, 8th grade, Mays Landing, NJ

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To me, the Liberty Bell is a symbol of our freedom (and liberty, obviously); it represents a lot of the things that we have done over the years, as well as our accomplishments. For example, all of the wars we've won, all of the diseases we've cured, and many more other things as well. It's a very important symbol to this country, which is probably why we hold it so dearly. It's also why a lot of terrorists want to destroy it, because it would hurt us very badly. I'm very thankful to have such a great symbol of peace.
- James Evans, 13, William Davies School, 8th grade, Mays Landing, NJ

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Church bells ringing, children singing . . . bells toll the hour of a special event. Our Liberty Bell once told colonists that it was time for independence, and later tolled for the freedom of slaves. But for me, neither a colonist nor a former slave, it tolls for more modern special times.

When I think about that big, brass Liberty Bell, I think of the word liberty, and the special times in my life when I feel especially free. I love to debate and speak my opinions in my class. I have the courage to say unpopular things about abortion, or about who would be the best president, or about open space. I don't even care if 97% of my class disagrees with me. I feel free at these times.

The Bell also makes me think of special times with my family in Philadelphia. We enjoy the pretty peacefulness of the historical district but also the great restaurants, fountains and museums. The Bell is a tangible reminder of all the beauty of the city. We went to visit the Liberty Bell this summer with our friends from France, and felt proud of the importance of Philadelphia and the Unites States.

The Liberty Bell cracked and imperfect like all beautiful things cannot ring the hour. But it still calls us to special times.
- Meghan Ross, 13, Indian Crest Jr. High School, 8th grade, Schwenksville, PA

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My brother who visits the United States once in a while was able to bring his family this time when he was attending a medical convention in New Orleans last September. Before returning to Korea they came to see me and my family. They have two children who were anxious to see Philadelphia all along. They learned about Philadelphia and the birth of a great nation who proclaimed the liberty throughout the whole world. I become a guide for Philadelphia area, Valley Forge and even east coast whenever we have guests from Korea. I explain to them how privileged I am living in America. I experience and appreciate the liberty and freedom which many people in the world only can dream of or long for.

I told my nephew and niece how fortunate they were who could visit America. I showed them the Atlas of the world and explained how big America was. Most of all, I explained how America started and became the great nation, history of Philadelphia and the significance of the Liberty Bell. These two children managed to squeeze through the crowd into the front of the Liberty Bell during our visit to the historical Independence Hall.

Before I asked them to turn around to take a picture, I was so moved by the expression of their proud and honored spirit that I had to capture it into the camera. Children are our future. They someday will be a part of great future with liberty and freedom and of course future with other expectations. I could read their expression when I had it developed. They are saying, "We are so inspired and honored at this moment as visitors to be part of the United States of America."

The Liberty Bell symbolizes and means to me, "Freedom, Love and Peace" and for others. My country, United States America has it more than any country in the world. I am proud of the Liberty Bell and the United States of America. God bless them both!
- Jung Ja Shin, 60, Malvern, PA

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"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." This proclamation of liberty is inscribed on one of the most famous symbols of freedom in America. The bell, however, has taken on various meanings for different people.

It is an important symbol of America and our freedoms. It symbolizes our fight for independence and the strides we've made to improve our nation. It represents peoples' dreams and goals. It represents peoples' struggle for equality and the wonderful results that followed. A crack may prevent the bell from ever ringing again, but its message of freedom will sound forever.
- Kelly O'Hara, 14, Rosemont School, 8th grade, Rosemont, PA

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The Liberty Bell is a great symbol to not only Philadelphia but to the whole United States. The Liberty Bell its not just a regular bell that is rung, its a the bell that represents us, the citizens of the United States of America. Most people say that the liberty Bell represents freedom, liberty, independence and many other things, to me it means all of the above and I also see it as more than a bell to me it shows me how a citizen of the United States should be. The Liberty Bell shows me to be strong and to never give up.
- Madlyne Santiago, 17, Olney High School, 12th grade, Philadelphia

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Let Freedom Ring! Ring, if it could, for those who can no longer tell the story, for those who can envision the story and for those who use it as a prompt to move on in their cause. One of many symbols of American Freedom that is housed here, in our City of Independence, the Liberty Bell continues to ring out to school children and travelers about America's past. Its chime talks to our forefathers' strife and to others, more current, who struggle to remain true to their convictions within the framework of a dynamic constitution, the Liberty Bell is strong, not perfect, standing in the image of tenacity and courage. IT beckons us to hear the ring of American History in our souls.
- Susan Folcher, 51, Philadelphia

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World Understanding & Peace... Taking peace and understanding to the world. Our citizens can transfer the dream into reality. Peace is not just the absence of hostilities...but it is the quality of life. Our freedom and peace must be a beacon for hope throughout the world. We must continually remind ourselves how lucky we are to have this in our country, and must continue to provide hope. A world that condones drug abuse, senseless violence, and unpunished crimes will never be a world at peace. If the world is prejudice, intolerance, and distrust will never be a world at peace. We must set that example for the world to see, and The Liberty Bell is that symbol to share with all.
- Clifford D. Reinert, 56, Boyertown, PA

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The Liberty Bell is no doubt one of the greatest patriotic symbols that we have managed to hold onto throughout rough times, and that is something to be proud of. But to me the Liberty Bell is not only a symbol it is also a sign. A sign that stands for America's ambition to stand tall and never give up no matter what happens. We have had some rough times lately, but just one glance at the Liberty Bell reminds me that we have had some rough times before but we have always found a way to survive. So I leave you with this quote of mine," Just because that bell can't ring doesn't mean I can't hear its tune."
- Tommy Dickson, 12, Kingsway Regional Middle School, 7th grade, Swedesboro, NJ

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To me, an African-American woman, the Liberty Bell means freedom, patriotism, my family past, present and future. Born in Philadelphia, I always took my two children to see the Bell at least three times a year. We always were extra patriotic although sometimes our friends laughed at us because we were Black. When my children grew up my son and the whole family was delighted when he found out that he was asked to introduce the Bell to visitors from all over the country. And so, they recorded his voice and he welcomed all to Philadelphia and the Bell people from all over the world. He has since passed away at a very young age, but will be remembered by this greeting. We hope that they will continue his greeting in its new home. Jack Jones had the privilege of being the greeter to the persons of the world and we will always be proud.
- Grace C. Jones, Philadelphia

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The Liberty Bell is an important icon and is significant to me because it represents my rights and freedom as an American Citizen. I am very fortunate to live in a Country where I am able to make my own choices. The Liberty Bell reminds me of what our Country stands for, and the crack in the bell represents what separates us from other countries, that do not share our liberties. It is an important American artifact that I hope will represent our freedom forever.
- Jeffrey Gaither, 8, home schooled, Lindenwold, NJ

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The Liberty Bell is no doubt one of the greatest patriotic symbols that we have managed to hold onto throughout rough times, and that is something to be proud of. But to me the Liberty Bell is not only a symbol it is also a sign. A sign that stands for America's ambition to stand tall and never give up no matter what happens. We have had some rough times lately, but just one glance at the Liberty Bell reminds me that we have had some rough times before but we have always found a way to survive. So I leave you with this quote of mine, "Just because that bell can't ring doesn't mean I can't hear its tune.
- Tommy Dickson, 12, Kingsway Regional Middle School, Swedesboro, NJ

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The Liberty Bell once rang for freedom and patriotism. Now it stands as a monument. Every country has its own flag. We have more than a flag; we have a Liberty Bell.

The crack stands for our struggle for freedom. The ringing of the bell stands for the reward of America's hardships. This bell represents the strength of our country.

The Liberty Bell makes me feel like I'm with the four founding fathers, debating about the contents of our Constitution. The Liberty Bell is a big part of America. Even though it's silent now, it still rings in my heart.
- Stephen Fleming, 10, Round Meadow Elementary School, Hatboro, PA

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Carved into one of our nations greatest symbols: Proclaim liberty through out the land and all the inhabitants there of. The Liberty Bell stands strong here in Philadelphia, its home for over 200 years. When I see the Liberty Bell, I see our past and future. Once I got to touch our Bell. My hand touched sorrow, and pain. I felt courage and strength too. When I see all the people visiting it I feel like time has stopped. It feels like I know everyone and every one knows me. That is how the Liberty Bell makes me feel.
- Kelly Dietrich, 11, Round Meadow Elementary School Hatboro, PA

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At four I saw the Liberty bell-just a bell with a crack! The crack is a mystery with many different explanations. Now, at ten, I study American history and understand that the Liberty Bell is the symbol of freedom in the United States. The inscription, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants..." reminds me I am free. Free from the terror of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Congo. Free to learn, play and speak without fear. Free to imagine the bell ringing again for all Americans to hear.
- Brendan Collins, 10, East Amwell School, Hopewell, NJ

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Opportunity in America. The Liberty bell means opportunity, to me. My parents came from India. They came here for opportunity. They were both intelligent and liked school. They wanted to go to a good college. Soon, they visited America. With the thought of the Liberty bell in mind, they kept thinking ... opportunity.

Me too. If I was still living in India, I would not do the things I do, like play travel soccer, clarinet in school, or private piano lessons. With Liberty Bell around, I am always encouraged to keep doing the things I do.
- Kaya Kikani, 10, Montgomery Elementary School, North Wales, PA

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The Liberty Bell is a significant symbol of this country's freedom. It's a shame to think that most citizens of this country take freedom for granted. Rarely do they think about the rights they receive as United States citizens. Basic things such as freedom of speech, power to elect leaders, and ownership of self-owned businesses, are all privileges that others around the world aren't entitled to.

I am grateful for the independence our forefathers have bestowed us, and having the Liberty Bell here in my own city, reminds me that without freedom, I wouldn't have the full potential to succeed.
- Elton-John Torres, 16, Frankford High School, Philadelphia, PA

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"Now cracks a noble heart," is said by Horatio in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. But this same statement can also relate to what the Liberty Bell means to me. What was once a strong, unified, peace of art is now cracked, broken and displayed for all to see in Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell was once beautiful in its simplistic way of symbolizing freedom, but can freedom be strongly represented in a broken structure? To me it cannot. For as long as the Liberty Bell stands cracked, America will have a peace of its heart missing; the peace that offers ALL people the freedom of speech, to practice their sexual preference, to be the individual souls that we are all entitled to be. I see a world, swarmed with chaos, hatred, famine, and poverty. I look into the eyes of children of all races and see eager minds ready to learn and excel, but since equal opportunity for all is a thing of the past, the future for them looks dim. In my heart, I use to feel a sense of pride knowing that I am an American. But for how much longer can a bell represent freedom if America only resembles the broken areas of such a structure, instead of the complete wholeness the bell once was. America seems to be falling apart these days and I fear for the future. Can the cracks of our nation be fixed? Yes, when freedom can ring without the sound of a faulty bell in the background.
- Jill Spiegel, 17, Lenape High School, Mt. Laurel, NJ

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It means freedom. It means life. It reminds me of the American Revolution. I think about the people who have fought for our liberty. I think about the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams wrote the Declaration of Independence. It means about life.
- Brennan Verges, 6, French International School of Philadelphia, Wynnewood, PA

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Philadelphia, the hub of liberty
though the bell is silent.
it's ring is deafening.
the sound of the liberty bell is heard by the whole world over.
the ring of freedom, liberty and the right to be an individual.
- Ted Fireoved, 40, Philadelphia, PA

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The Liberty Bell is a sentimental symbol of hope that runs through every American soul around this united nation. This freedom-radiating source of brotherly love pulses on in the lives of every American searching for happiness. Without the Liberty Bell our nation would be lost in a dark corridor without a lantern to light the way. The Liberty Bell is our lantern, our tour guide, our heart beating as one, one American, one freedom, and one hope, one Liberty. This simple bell is our nations wings. When our flight droops, all Americans look to the Bell for love and for freedom.
- Nicholas Brian Chilson, 11, Cold Spring Elementary School, Doylestown, PA

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The Liberty Bell is the visible symbol of an invisible pride felt in the hearts and minds of those who love this country. It is a reminder of trials past, conflicts present, and a future yet to come. The Bell is representative of my freedom. In small measure, I am part of its history, as it is part of mine. I view the Liberty Bell with a smile on my face and tug at my heart, knowing that it will survive long after I am gone. For a life blessed with freedom, I am truly grateful.
- Harriet Koenig, 63, Bensalem, PA

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To many people the Liberty Bell represents different things. It represents freedom, history, and our rights as Americans. For me, the Bell provides the sense of strength. Our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, an enduring symbol of our freedom. The Liberty Bell also represents independence. It provides hope for our future that many generations may live in a just world. People say America is like a puzzle, each person a different piece, all making up one big picture. To me the Liberty Bell is the "glue" reminding us of what was, what is, and what may be.
- Penny Nickles, age 13. Rosemont School of the Holy Child, Rosemont, PA

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Symbols touch my heart and memory. After 9/ll the flag brought me to tears for months each time I saw it fly on an overpass or on the crane above the bridge being built over the Raritan River each day coming and going to work. The Liberty Bell also is a symbol of our freedom, our community. No matter where our roots were it is a symbol that the people of this wonderful free nation can pull together to sustain and spread our freedom, provide justice no matter what our station in life and go the extra mile to enable all who are here and may come here to make a better life for themselves and their families. It is a symbol that all have an equal opportunity to fulfill the dreams that brought our ancestors here in the first place.
- Alicia P. Bertrand, 61, Brick, NJ

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The liberty bell means liberty, freedom. It has a special place in my heart that tells me everyone should have civil rights. It rings with cheers. It rings with emancipation. I can hear the sound of the rings through my ears. It is special to me. It is very beautiful when I take a look at it. It shines with a crack. The liberty bell is very important to me and that is what it means to me.
- Berenice Leung, 8, Thomas Fitzwater Elementary, Roslyn, PA

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Have you ever thought of something that can move your thoughts and emotions back in time? Have you ever wondered what magical things lay inside your ordinary city? Well, most people don't, but this is something you should do. I live in the city of "Brotherly Love", yes, that's right, Philadelphia. It is the home of many things, such as cheese steaks and the Love statue. But most importantly, the Liberty Bell. My feelings on this simple brass structure are inexplicable. I feel the love and compassion that the settlers in the 1700's experienced also. I understand what this plain, old bell did and I am grateful for it. Without this bell, there would be no government, rights, other thoughts and ideas, or someone who is just plain different. I want to thank you, Liberty Bell, for giving me a wonderful free life.
- Ariel Feldman, 12, Welsh Valley Middle School, Gladwyne, PA

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Liberty is within us all. We have the right and freedom to our choices and actions. The word liberty is here to remind us about the benefit that we have. We are lucky to have freedom because in some countries people are not allowed to do as they will. They have to follow the rules or demands of the ruler or master. Some of the freedoms we have are limited. We have to follow laws that are passed. If we don't then we have to pay for the choices we've made. Liberty is good but comes with responsibilities.
- Thanh Kim Nguyen, 16, Frankford High School, Philadelphia, PA

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Let Freedom Ring! Does the Liberty Bell really deserve the "ooh's" and "aah's?" Surely it represents freedom. I know part of the story; we rang it after independence from England, then it broke. I cannot comprehend what about it makes it a tourist magnet. I'm astounded by how many representations the Liberty Bell has. I do know we lionize it frequently. I can't understand the full meaning of the Liberty Bell because I never learned the whole story. It's not ignorance; it's lack of knowledge to blame. I respect it, but I don't fawn over it.
- Michael Brenan, 13, Rosemont School of the Holy Child, Rosemont, PA

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The Liberty Bell has a big significance to the city of Philadelphia, because it was rung at the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. To me, the Liberty Bell symbolizes freedom. According to dictionary.com, freedom is defined as the condition of being free of restraints. However, to me, freedom means being able to say what I want to say, and to be who I want to be. I feel very strongly that the Liberty Bell should stay put as a symbol of our freedom until the end of time.
- Sarah Connelly, 13, Rosemont School of the Holy Child, Rosemont, PA

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The Liberty bell is just that-a bell that since it first rang has professed freedom and liberty. It is physically just a bell but what matters is what it means not what it is. To me the liberty bell means freedom, courage and patriotism, and each time I get the privilege to see it I am reminded of the era of our founding fathers, the people who gave up so much for the ideal of freedom. One day it will be destroyed but even then it will live on, silently ringing in our hearts.
- John Kevin Remosta, 13, Rosemont School of the Holy Child, Rosemont, PA

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The Liberty Bell is important to me because it represents our country's fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War.

It is also important to many Philadelphians, including me, because it is one of the most important historical monuments in our country. It symbolizes the strength of our country even though it was cracked several years ago. I think the Liberty Bell also gives encouragement to foreigners who continue to fight for their own freedom. I know that whenever foreign leaders visit Philadelphia, the official gift of the city is a replica of the Liberty bell.
- Laura Smith, 13, Rosemont School of the Holy Child, Rosemont, PA

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The liberty bell symbolizes freedom for America. It represents political, religious, and personal freedoms. This is what it means to me. I have an African-American friend and I am white-skinned. If we didn't have freedom to go to school together, I wouldn't even know her! In fact, in my school, we have all different color-skinned people, even relatives of Native-Americans! Also, there are different types of families, like ones with two dads, or two moms, or only grandparents. Do not forget different religions like Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. All together we are equal and we let freedom ring... in "E- flat"!!
- Dina Sophie Zaret, 9, Wyncote Elementary School, Elkins Park, PA

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Liberty means freedom from slavery, captivity, or any other control. I'm glad to live in a country where I have the opportunity to have liberty and freedom. Freedom is important to me because my people didn't always have freedom in this country. Because they were given their freedom, I'm now a liberated person. Because I have never been enslaved or held captive, I don't know what it feels like not to have liberty and freedom. I'm grateful for living in a country where liberty and freedom means something. I'm happy to say I have liberty and freedom in my life.
- Lara McCoy, 16, Frankford High School, Philadelphia, PA

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The Liberty Bell. A metal bell with a long, jagged crack cutting through the metal surface. To me, that's all it is. To other people, maybe a symbol, a symbol of liberty, freedom, and of the brave men who died for this country, who died for what they believed in. I do believe in all of those things, but I'm not about to write a long, epic poem about our founding fathers and the bell that rang when they died. To me, the Liberty Bell means tourists taking smiling pictures of historic Philadelphia. I wonder if all that smiling hurts?
- Hannah Paige Feldman, 11, Cold Spring Elementary, Doylestown, PA

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Like the dinner bell on the farm, the Liberty Bell calls me in for a respite. It nourishes my soul and replenishes me. Without it, I'm not sure what would sustain me. It abates my pessimism and quiets my cynicism. Like anyone else, I have doubts about our government and misgivings about Americans, but the Liberty bell and everything it represents assuages my fears. Mostly it represents America. Imperfect in design and in execution, we are always striving to be better. The liberty bell encourages my patriotism and makes me proud to call myself an American.
- Matthew Straiton, 34, Bensalem, PA

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