The Bell Honors Program
SALUTING THE SACRIFICE
The founding principle of the Honor Bell Foundation, Inc., is to provide the opportunity for the rendering of a respectful, final honor at military funerals and memorial services. This is accomplished with the tolling of a bell—The Honor Bell—in a manner based in tradition and respect. This practice, known as Rendering Bell Honors, will be the last sound heard at a funeral and will toll with an understated, solemn, and clear tone.
The Birth of the Bell
The Foundation cast the Honor Bell in May, 2016. This bell is a custom-designed thirty-seven inch diameter, forty inch tall, stationary bronze bell that will weigh close to one thousand pounds.
During the casting of The Honor Bell artifacts from those who have served were added to the 2000-degree molten bronze. These artifacts represent past, present and future veterans. These artifacts were escorted to the foundry by state chapters of the Patriot Guard Riders.
The Honor Bell was cast slightly thicker than required, and was gradually and carefully tuned. Tuning involves a painstaking process of removing just the right amount of metal at different levels inside the bell—thus ensuring the instrument sounds the somber notes required of an honor bell.
When the bell was completed, representatives of the Honor Bell Foundation, the Bell Honor Guard and the Patriot Guard Riders accompanied the Bell on its journey to Colorado, introducing this symbol of tradition and respect to the public at a number of stops. The Honor Bell was officially dedicated for service in a solemn public ceremony on Memorial Day, 2016.
The Bell Honors Ceremony
Rendering Bell Honors is performed in a tradition known as the "ancient tolling method," a perfect complement to the beauty of military rites. After the folded flag of the United States of America is presented to the next of kin, the Bell Guard provides a tribute of dignity, honor and respect with the Seven Solemn Tolls of the Honor Bell. The bell is tolled seven times, with seven seconds between each toll. Seven is the number of “completion“ and represents the veteran's life—beginning with their birth and completing with their death. You ring a bell for joy, you toll a bell for sorrow. Tolling is the deliberate slow-ringing of a bell to illicit sorrow and show respect.
After the rendering of Bell Honors, the Bell is not tolled again until the next Bell Honors Mission.