New banner celebrates Belmont’s role as host site of the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate
In observance of Flag Day, Belmont University lifted its own celebration of the ‘stars and stripes’ by draping the campus’s historic Bell Tower this week in a red, white and blue flag banner. The banner heralds the upcoming Oct. 7, 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate to be held at the university’s Curb Event Center. Measuring 45 feet tall by 16 feet wide, the tower banner will serve as an ideal backdrop for local print and broadcast media in the coming months ahead and throughout the Town Hall Debate.
Since its construction, the Bell Tower has stood through 31 presidencies and will now welcome the future president during a pivotal time of this historic election year. Located in the heart of Belmont’s campus, the Bell Tower was built around 1850 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. On Adelicia Acklen’s original estate, it was used as a water tower, with a moat spanned by a bridge at the entrance. During the Civil War, it was used as a signal tower, and in 1928, a carillon of 23 bells was installed to create a ‘singing tower’ at the then Ward-Belmont School. The current Bell Tower includes a total of 42 bells weighing more than three tons and is one of only five carillons in the state of Tennessee. The Bell Tower is now captured in Belmont University’s logo and has been the centerpiece of campus from its early days as an all women’s school through its current status as the largest private Christian university in Tennessee.
Flag Day’s original inspiration came in 1885, when Wisconsin school teacher Bernard Cigrand asked his students to write an essay describing the importance of the American flag. The assignment secured Cigrand’s life-long mission to raise awareness and emphasize the importance of the nation’s stars and stripes and what they represent. His efforts were successful, and in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation encouraging national observance of Flag Day, leading to celebrations in various communities with parades and gatherings. In 1949, President Harry Truman signed into law an Act of Congress officially declaring June 14 National Flag Day.