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Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial to host annual Liberty Bell of the West patriotic ceremony

Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial to host annual Liberty Bell of the West patriotic ceremony

KASKASKIA – The Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial on historic Kaskaskia Island in southwest Illinois will host its 52nd annual patriotic ceremony at 1 p.m. July 4 to celebrate the nation’s independence.

The Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial is home of the "Liberty Bell of the West," which was cast in 1741 and presented by France as a gift to the Catholic Church of the Illinois Country. Originally located at the Immaculate Conception Parish at Kaskaskia, it was rung by villagers to celebrate their July 4, 1778, liberation from the British by American Colonel George Rogers Clark.

This year’s July 4 program will feature remarks by Justice David Overstreet, member of the Illinois Supreme Court from the Fifth Judicial District. Overstreet serves on the Illinois Judicial Conference and is vice chair of the Public Relations Task Force.

Music will be performed by the Chester Municipal Band with vocalist Steve Colonel. A rifle volley from historic interpreters Les Compagnie Franche de La Marine at de Fort de Chartres will accompany the patriotic celebration. Pastor Jim Oppedal of First United Methodist Church in Chester will offer the invocation and benediction. Members of the Stanley and Mary Hurst Family are the honorary bell ringers.

A plate lunch, sandwiches and other refreshments will be available. Visitors are asked to bring lawn chairs for the program.

The Chester Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, the City of Chester, area scout troops, the Kaskaskia Church Foundation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) are hosts of the Independence Day celebration.

Kaskaskia Bell Historic State Memorial, administered by the IDNR, is located on an island in the Mississippi River about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis. The town was once physically connected to the rest of Illinois by a peninsula until the Mississippi River changed course in 1881. The memorial is reachable by land only from Missouri. Visitors can access the site through St. Mary, Missouri; take Missouri Highway 61 to the Old Channel Bridge, turn east, then follow Kaskaskia Bell markers for about 5 miles to the state memorial site.