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Friday, May 18, 2007

Another vintage Radio Free Europe PSA...

Isn't YouTube amazing? Here is another vintage public service announcement (PSA) for Radio Free Europe, and it stars Ronald Reagan! It doesn't give the year, but a quick search of google (isn't google amazing?) yields that World Freedom Bell mentioned in the PSA was dedicated in 1950, so that would put this ad probably in 1951.

Upon doing a little more research on google I found that the symbol of RFE/RL until recently was the World Freeddom Bell. I had assumed that the logo represented the Liberty Bell. Our RFE/RL web site has some historical information, and it says:

"It starts with an account of how Radio Free Europe (RFE) came to take the bell as its symbol. It was not, as some people mistakenly believe, America's famously cracked Liberty Bell. The origins of RFE's logo are a 10-ton bell especially made in the British foundry Gillett and Johnston and decorated with a frieze of five figures representing the five races of mankind passing the torch of freedom. It arrived in New York in 1949 and traveled to 21 cities in the United States as part of the "Crusade for Freedom" drive to raise money to found and promote Radio Free Europe. More than 16 million Americans responded with contributions and RFE and its bell logo were born. Instead of the five figures, the RFE bell logo had a vertical divide into a darker and lighter side, generally interpreted as the divide between the democratic West and the communist East. But for many years now, Europe has been whole and almost free and both the dividing line and the bell have lost their meaning. The original Freedom Bell was permanently installed in West Berlin in 1950. Few people today know where it is, why it is there, and what it represents."

The web site Bells of Peace and Freedom says of the Freedom Bell "(it) has chimed every day at midday from the tower of Rathaus Schöneberg. Its sound has become the symbol of freedom in our city, the expression of American support for Berlin and the symbol of German-American friendship." One other note, the Rathaus Schoenberg (city hall) where the Feeedom Bell resides is where President Kennedy gave his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in June 1963.