A Ring of Victory - Video Transcript

Duncan: The presence of military on East Carolina’s campus goes right back to after World War II. The GI Bill came and a lot of these military folks from Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg who had been there during the war, came to Greenville and saw the campus. Two years into the Veterans Club being here, they made a request for the curator of the Navy that said they would like to have a bell that was on a Navy ship during World War II. It’s very interesting because the bell was cast in 1855 in Philadelphia, and it’s a bronze bell that weighs about 380 pounds.

The interesting dynamic is that this was prior to the Monitor and Merrimack, the first ironclads. So, you know it had to be on some wooden ship. But we have not been able to determine, which one. We have done some research, but we can’t find what ship it was on first. It ended up on the USS Broome. The USS Broome was scrapped about 1948, and that’s how East Carolina got the bell. In 1953 it was installed here in a dedication just down beside Christenbury Gym. It has remained there, and a lot of people over the years have begun to wonder what is and what is there for. But it honored World War II and Korean veterans from East Carolina.

The Victory Bell concept- it was to be rung for victories, so it was placed beside Christenbury Gym just after the Gym opened. Ringing it would be difficult because the clapper is gone. I think if you hit it with your hand or an object, it has a very nice ring to it. That was the idea of the Victory Bell.

Gill: Steve Duncan, who is in charge of the military science program, contacted Hunt McKinnon and myself to talk about the possibility of coming up with a memorial wall for fallen veterans who served at ECU. Through collaboration of faculty, facilities, and administration, we found a location to install the memorial wall for the veterans. It’s all in the same location that it was originally placed, but it’s just in a more interactive location where hopefully more students, staff, and faculty will get to share in the heritage of the bell.

There are a lot of facilities folks who are getting involved in it. We have the masonry department. We have the grounds department that will be installing the landscaping around it. A lot of people are giving of their time to make this a successful event, all the way down from faculty, to administration, to the facility service’s folks. It’s a team effort, and we hope the project will be successful.

McKinnon: What happened with the original installation- it was probably a great installation for it’s time, but this is a huge improvement because it’s going to integrate that screen wall that is the back of Brewster and Science and Technology. Ultimately we hope to have more than one plaque that stair steps up the wall the same way that the retaining wall and the seat wall does now.  It’s going to get integrated into the environment; it won’t just be stuck on the land. It’s going to fit in very, very nicely.

Duncan:  We had a three-star admiral to graduate from East Carolina and he made a speech here. He is now deceased. He said bells were rung to give directions on the ship. He took his cane and tapped the bell however many rings that means “All is well.” I think the bell would be a great place to gather and celebrate graduations, weddings, and to celebrate a new child. We should ring it because those are victories in life.

I’d like to see, as we rededicate it, to become a place of reflection and a place of celebration. We will celebrate life as we have reverence for those who gave their lives. Let’s start a new era of the Victory Bell.