On Thursday, April 9, 2015, people across the country came together for a bell ringing ceremony to commemorate the end of the American Civil War. 150 years ago, Gen. Grant and Gen. Lee ended their meeting in Appomattox marking the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, the site of the McLean house and the meeting between the two Generals, was the location of the first bell to ring on the 9th.
At 3:15, bells across the land began ringing and continued to do so for four minutes, one minute for each year of the war. This event brings a symbolic end to the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War. The gathering in Goochland was held on the steps of the historic Court house. Society President Wayne Dementi welcomed all who attended and then introduced Rev. Lauren Lobenhofer, pastor of Gum Spring United Methodist Church who provided a prayer for the occasion.
The ringers then stepped up and began tolling the bell. One of the ringers, Isabelle Duke, had a great-grandfather who was among the men from the Army of Northern Virginia who was at Appomattox for the final meeting between Grant and Lee. She remembered stories from her childhood that he would tell about the meeting and the fact that he walked home afterwards. Proof that 150 years is not as long ago as it seems.
Once the ringing ended, Dr. Bruce Venter read from several eye witness accounts to the event. He concluded by talking about the more than 750,000 lives lost during the 4 years of the conflict and the fact that Lincoln’s assassination occurred just a week after the meeting. It was a somber ending for the solemn event.
The Historical Society would like to thank everyone who participated in this commemoration.