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Speeches by Patricia L. Herbold

Remarks by Ambassador Patricia L. Herbold

Revere Bell Ceremony
May 18, 2006

Thank you, Director Lee, for joining us here today to commemorate the return of the Revere Bell to the National Museum of Singapore.

The National Museum generously loaned the Revere Bell to the American Embassy in January 1997, to showcase the enduring ties between the United States and Singapore and to celebrate the opening of this building.  We have been honored to give the Bell a home while the Museum completed its expansion.

In 1843, Mrs. Maria Revere Balestier, wife of the first American Consul in Singapore and a daughter of American Revolutionary War patriot Paul Revere, gave the Bell to the Church of St. Andrew – now St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

The Church used the Bell to sound the curfew each evening at eight o’clock, reminding seamen to return to their ships and warning residents to exercise caution after dark.  The practice of sounding the Revere Bell continued until 1874, and the Bell was used in church services until 1889 when it was replaced by a new set of bells.  This is the only Bell cast by the famous Revere foundry that is outside the United States.

Maria’s husband, Joseph Balestier, served as American Consul from 1837 until 1852.  His primary duty was to look after American trading interests in the region, but he also looked after the welfare of Americans, including shipwrecked seamen.  To us, the Bell embodies the long-term and peaceful relationship between Singapore and the United States.  It also reminds us that the issues that absorb us today in our relations with Singapore -- prosperity and security -- are the same ones that brought Joseph and Maria Balestier here.

We are grateful to the Museum for giving us the privilege of exhibiting the Revere Bell. Each year, thousands of visitors to the embassy have viewed it and learned about the long-standing American diplomatic presence in Singapore.  As the Bell returns to the National Museum for display, even more Singapore residents and visitors will have the opportunity to learn about this colorful chapter of Singaporean and American history.

Thank you all for coming today.