(Excerpted from United Symbolism of America by Robert R. Hieronimus, Ph.D.)
The Liberty Bell was not consciously and deliberately constructed, selected, or designed as an image to represent America. Its reputation as a symbol grew gradually, and only after years of utilitarian service had endeared it to the hearts of the public. There are no other practical objects (famous quill pens, illustrious saddles, noteworthy washtubs, for example) that faithfully served the founding of this great nation and then turned into American symbols. From this I conclude there must be something about the Liberty Bell’s bellness that is responsible for the strong reaction in our emotional bodies which makes us identify with it as a symbol.
It was not until after performing its functional duty for almost a hundred years, and after the bell broke, that its secondary personality as an American symbol was fully born. When its “injury” forced it into retirement, I think the public embraced it all the more. Plans for the centennial brought it to life again, and the crowds coming to see it have grown incrementally ever since then. Today over a million people a year make a pilgrimage to the Liberty Bell. They come to touch it, and to stand in its aura, to be inspired.
Each time it was rung to mark another step towards the ideal inscribed on its side: “Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” a mass of people shared a moment as a group. The soundwaves of Liberty penetrated their consciousness in a unifying moment. Recent laboratory tests are exploring how integral vibration is to healing, and the many ways in which sound affects consciousness and the physical world. Our attraction to the Liberty Bell derives in part from the sense of unity we experience while listening to the ringing of a bell. The tones of a bell vibrate through the clothes, skin, blood and molecules of its listeners simultaneously. It is a collective experience that subconsciously draws us together. The Liberty Bell helped unify the Colonists on a vibrational level down to their very molecules, and according to some sound/healing researchers, down to the level of creation. Creation stories from around the world include passages metaphorically describing sound or vibration as a creative force. When we create sound here on Earth, we are honoring that first creation.