[UPDATE] 11-9 11:30am --
Pictures of the USS Tallahassee bell can be found attached to this story.
Tallahassee, FL - On November 9, just before Veterans Day, the 107 year-old historical bronze bell from the USS Tallahassee will be moved from its current location at the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce to its new home at City Hall transported by a horse-drawn carriage.
As the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce has been the safe keeper of the bell since 1972, Chamber Chairman Todd Sperry and Chamber President Sue Dick will begin the ceremony at 10 a.m. by returning the bell to the U.S. Navy in front of the Chamber’s offices on North Duval Street.
“When I learned the Chamber was selling its building, I sought both the Chamber and the City’s permission to identify a more prominent location to display the 107 year-old historic bell, while at the same time, using this occasion to honor our veterans from all branches of the service,“ said David Ramsay, community supporter and activist. “We can never say thank you often enough to those who have protected our freedom.”
The bell will then be transported to its new home near the front entrance of City Hall. During a second ceremony, U.S. Navy officials will present the bell to the City of Tallahassee for safe keeping. Veterans from all services, along with any members of the community, are invited to escort the 320-pound bell along the three-block route to City Hall. Employees from downtown offices and businesses are also urged to show their support for this occasion by standing along the route (Park Avenue east to Adams Street, then south to City Hall). In addition, children from the First Baptist Church’s preschool center will line the route waving American flags. An honor guard from the USS Florida nuclear submarine will lead the procession.
LTG Bob Milligan, USMC (Ret), RADM Paul Moses, USN (Ret), Secretary of State Dawn Roberts, Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer, City Manager Anita Favors Thompson, FAMU’s NROTC midshipman commander Lauren Kiser and David Ramsay, will take part in the ceremony. CAPT Tom Calabrese, Commanding Officer of the USS Florida, will preside over the transfer.
The USS Tallahassee was launched on November 30, 1901, and commissioned as the USS Florida on June 18, 1903. The Florida was renamed Tallahassee (IX-16) on July 1, 1908 to free the State name for assignment to a new battleship. She had a crew of 220 officers and enlisted personnel.
At various times between 1906 and 1917, the USS Tallahassee served as the Naval Academy’s midshipman training ship, trained Naval Reservists, and conducted ordnance experiments. She was the ship chosen to prove that stacked turrets would be safe and effective. In 1915, she was converted to a submarine tender. During World War I, the USS Tallahassee served in the Canal Zone, the Virgin Islands, and the Bermuda areas, earning the World War I Victory Medal. She was decommissioned on March 24, 1922.
“The USS Tallahassee had a long and distinguished history as a naval vessel serving our country and we are proud that its ship’s bell has found its home in the capital city,” said Interim Florida Secretary of State Dawn K. Roberts. “We thank the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce for preserving the bell for the last 38 years and appreciate the City’s willingness to assume its stewardship.”
Van service will be available for any veteran who cannot make the walk. Parking is available at Kleman Plaza Parking Garage; there will also be handicap parking available in front of the Leon County Public Library. The west lane of Duval Street between Park Avenue and Call Street will be closed to traffic from 8:30 to 10: 30 a.m.
Crews from the City’s Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Affairs Department built the steel stand for the bell at City Hall and also added a nearby reflective bench and adjacent landscaping. Generous support and donations have been provided to make this ceremony possible with special thanks to Andrew’s Downtown, the FSU Master Craftsman Studios, Marpan Supply Company and Ron Sachs Communications. Additional contributions are being solicited to help defray the cost of the bell’s relocation.