KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Many years after Western Michigan University's Victory Bell vanished from campus in 1967, it has finally made its return in 2012. Unveiled today at WMU's CommUniversity luncheon, the newly restored bell was rang to mark the kick off of the 2012 football season.
Watch above for a peak at the Victory Bell and an interview from Western Michigan University President John Dunn.
In 1939, Western Michigan obtained a Victory Bell from the Gull Lake district. It originally was in a country school. The bell was rung for the first time on October 7, 1939 to announce the defeat of Miami University in the first football game at Waldo Stadium.
Ed Stewart, president of the W Club, was given the honor of ringing the bell for the first time. An article in the November 2, 1939 Western Herald read, "Students and townspeople will have an opportunity to see and hear the bell during Homecoming days since a group of freshmen have been appointed to ring it through the streets fo the city. Following that, it will take its place in the Hall for Men (Vandercook), and in the traditions of Western."
In 1942, the men of Vandcercook Hall surrendered the bell in salute to Kalamazoo's united scrap metal drive to help win World War II. Towner Smith, director of Vandercook Hall, stated for an October 8, 1942 Herald article, "There will be no victory until the war is won. Then, we will buy another Victory Bell." The bell was reported to weigh 150 pounds.
Fourteen years later, WMU secured a new Victory Bell. It was announced in the September 21, 1956 Herald. "To be painted with the school colors it will be mounted on a portable skid and will be donated to the rumored pep club as a part of Western's oncoming gridiron victories."
On October 21, 1960, the Herald announced new policies to pick WMU Victory Bell Winners. "In the future, the preside and vice-president of the SODS, student pep-raising group, will help the cheerleaders with their decision."
At some point in the decade of the 1960's, the bell was stolen not to return until this year, when the possible culprit contacted the athletic office wanting to return the bell. With amnesty granted, the bell was returned and restored by the employees of AFSCME and painted black.
The 2012 version of the Victory Bell was unveiled at this year's CommUniverCity Luncheon on Friday, September 7, one day before the Broncos home opener against Eastern Illinois. The bell will ring seven times for a touchdown, three times for a field goal and to signify a victory after every win.