I’d just gone to a family reunion in South Jersey and was headed to my gate at Philadelphia International Airport when I walked past this monument. Someone had reconstructed the Liberty Bell and the harness that holds it entirely in Lego blocks.
I loved it. And as I walked round and round, I had four observations.
1) When I was in eighth grade in the late 1960s, Florence L. Walther Elementary School took my class to Philly on a history-themed trip. We walked past the real Liberty Bell, which at the time – believe this or not – could actually be touched by passers-by. (I’m not saying we were allowed to touch it, but hey.) I struck it with my knuckles, and it made a deep, quiet “clong.” The Lego Liberty Bell made no noise when I repeated that experiment. And my hand hurt.
2) Four people stopped while I was admiring it. One said nothing. One said, “That’s amazing.” One, a boy of perhaps 9 or 10, asked the adult with him, “What’s that?” The adult replied, “A famous bell.” Yes, some American of voting age could not identify the Liberty Bell by sight.
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3) A few pieces were missing along the lower edge. So either the actual bell has an uneven bottom border, and the Lego sculptor reproduced it with remarkable accuracy, or someone has stolen pieces from the Lego replica as a souvenir. This is the city where fans once booed Santa Claus at a Philadelphia Eagles game – admittedly, he dropped a football thrown to him on the sidelines – so I’m not sure which to believe.
4) Charlotte’s airport needs a life-sized Lego sculpture of something that defines our city. I’d nominate a big ol’ hornet’s nest with Lego insects crawling all over it. That doesn’t have the dignity of a great bell, but it’d be a stop-and-stare spot for sure.