The Rotary Minute is a quick one-minute story that features the work and impact of Rotary in our community and world!

The history of the Rotary Bell

January 2021 is Vocational Service Month | District 7070
This week’s Rotary Minute is thanks to a post I saw on Facebook from past president Joe Bruce.  Every week we hear the tolling of the Rotary Bell.  But do we know the history around this bell?

In 1922, U.S. Rotarians organized an attendance contest; the challenge was that the losing clubs would join in giving the winning club a prize (remember, there weren’t as many Rotary clubs in 1922 as there are today).  The Rotary Club of New York City was declared the winner and to them was awarded as a prize a bell from a popular patrol boat, which was placed on wood that came from the HMS "Victory", British Admiral Nelson's vessel at the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar during the Napoleonic War.

That bell from the HMS “Victory” was the first ever “Rotary Bell.” Since then, almost all clubs have used a bell. The bell used in Rotary meetings started to represent, as it did on the ships, order, discipline and the time to guide us through the weekly hour and a half meetings.  
The bell informs us with its sound the beginning of the Rotary meeting, at which time people present should stop chatting and pay attention.

The gavel symbolizes the authority invested in the Rotarian elected to the position to perform the duty. When presidents hand over their positions to their successors at the end of their mandate, they give the bell their last strike turning the gavel over to their successor, and thus symbolizing the transfer of authority.

Here at Rotary Club #21, the president also strikes the bell to honor those Rotarians that are born here in Spokane.  The president will also strike the bell in remembrance of Rotarians who have passed.

And now you know, that since 1922, the Rotary Bell has been an important part of the club culture that makes Rotary special.  And that is today’s Rotary minute!