Oak Ridge Rotary Clubs announced Thursday that they are donating $10,000 to the project to build a new Peace Pavilion to house the International Friendship Bell at a new location in Oak Ridge’s Alvin K. Bissell Park.
The donation was announced by Devrin Kuipers, president of Oak Ridge Sunset Rotary Club; Jennifer Campbell, president of Oak Ridge Rotary Club; and Emily Jernigan, president of Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club. It was accepted by Pat Postma and Alan Tatum, co-chairs of the International Friendship Bell Citizens Advisory Committee.
The check presentation was the start of a public campaign to raise $750,000 for the project. A total of $416,000, or more than half the money, has either already been raised or pledged.
Also Thursday, UT-Battelle announced a $150,000 donation to the project.
UT-Battelle said the International Friendship Bell is considered an important symbol of the heritage and future of Oak Ridge. The bell, which was installed at A.K. Bissell Park in 1996, is 8,000 pounds of bronze cast with images that symbolize the peace and friendship shared by Japan and Oak Ridge. The new Peace Pavilion will enlarge the public gathering area around the bell. The bell will also be moved within A.K. Bissell Park.
Officials expect the the International Friendship Bell and Peace Pavilion to be among the significant tour stops for visitors interested in the city’s history as part of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. That park includes several sites in Oak Ridge, including at three federal sites, East Tennessee Technology Park (the former K-25 site), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Y-12 National Security Complex.
The idea of the Japanese-style bell originated with Oak Ridge residents Ram and Shigeko Uppuluri from India and Japan, respectively, as a symbol of unity between the United States and Japan and to serve as a monument to the post-war reconciliation and peace between the two nations, UT-Battelle said.
The bronze bell is nearly seven feet tall and five feet wide, designed by an Oak Ridge artist and cast by a family foundry in Kyoto, Japan.
Oak Ridge was built as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II to help make the world’s first nuclear weapons. Uranium enriched in Oak Ridge fueled the first atomic bomb used in wartime; it was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. Japan surrendered shortly after a second bomb was dropped over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.
In the words of the late Alvin Weinberg, who was a former director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, noted nuclear physicist, and advocate for the bell: “I hope it will become a shrine for the many visitors who, by their pilgrimage to the Friendship Bell, will be participating in the sanctification of Hiroshima and the permanence of the tradition of nonuse.”
The International Friendship Bell Advisory Committee hosted a community gathering on Thursday to unveil the Peace Pavilion and plaza design for the bell’s new location in Bissell Park. The bell, an Oak Ridge icon now sitting in silence, “will bring its message of peace to the tens of thousands of visitors expected to visit the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park,” a press release said. Next steps are being taken to position the bell to ring again.
The Advisory Committee—co-chairs Alan Tatum and Pat Postma, and Jon Hetrick, Ray Smith, Kay Brookshire, Tom Row, Shigeko Uppuluri, and her son, Ram Uppuluri—has worked to determine the design for the new Peace Pavilion and the location that will best serve the community and the new national park. The committee now will encourage community participation in the project.
More information about the International Friendship Bell and the fundraising campaign is available at http://friendshipbell.com/.
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