The Washington Memorial Heritage, a nonprofit secular arm of the Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge, has revealed plans for what is slated to be a historic Women’s Suffrage Centennial commemoration.
Centered around the chapel’s Justice Bell, which signifies the passing of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, the unprecedented commemoration is slated to kick off in August 2020. It will include a public champagne reception and sendoff of the bell from the chapel to Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, where a large-scale event will occur in conjunction with “Women 100: A Celebration of American Women” presented by Drexel University’s Vision 2020.
According to Maria Bomersbach, President of Washington Memorial Heritage’s Board of Directors, the Justice Bell, also known as the Women’s Liberty Bell, is prominently displayed in the atrium of the National Patriots Bell Tower of the chapel and was the brainchild and gift of Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger of Strafford. In 1915, she commissioned the casting of a duplicate of the Liberty Bell, adding the inscription “Establish Justice” to call attention to the fight for women’s suffrage.
The Justice Bell has been located at the chapel since the 1920s.
“Women and men of all races and religions enabled the passage of the 19th Amendment so it is suitable that the Justice Bell’s inscription ‘Establish Justice’ – which was used as a key message – remains as important today as it was when great Aunt Katharine communicated it,” said Alexandra Tatnall, Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger’s great niece and the event’s Honorary Chair.
Justice Bell 2020 is partnering with esteemed organizations, including the Chester County Historical Society, to ensure that their mission of education, historical preservation, and unity is achieved on every level of the commemoration.