London's Big Ben to Cease Chiming Until 2021

iStock
iStock

Starting in late August, one of London’s largest—and noisiest—national symbols will go silent: As BBC News reports, Big Ben (which has rung on the hour for 157 years) will cease chiming until 2021. The measure is intended to protect workers completing restoration work on both the clock and its surrounding structure.

Big Ben will still chime on New Year’s Eve, Remembrance Sunday (a UK holiday that honors veterans), and other special occasions, but its last hourly bong will sound on Monday, August 21. Meanwhile, scaffolding has already been erected around the clock tower, and repairs have begun.

The clock tower last received extensive conservation work in the early 1980s. Officials say that the clock’s hands, pendulum, and inner workings all have problems “which need to be dealt with immediately to ensure that the clock can continue to work properly,” according to Parliament’s official website.

“Surveys are still being carried out to identify the extent of the works required to the tower itself, but we have already identified areas of concern, including cracks in masonry, leaks, erosion, and severe rusting of metalwork,” officials added. “There is a risk that if not addressed as a matter of urgency, the clock may fail or [structural] problems may become acute.”

Big Ben’s clock will be dismantled piece by piece, so its four dials can be cleaned and fixed. Its faces will be temporarily covered, but an electric motor will continue to drive the clock hands so it can keep telling time. Architects also plan to modernize the clock tower by making it more energy-efficient, and adding an elevator, toilet, and kitchen.

"This essential program of works will safeguard the clock on a long-term basis, as well as protecting and preserving its home—the Elizabeth Tower," the clock's keeper Steve Jaggs told the BBC.

For the uninitiated, the name “Big Ben” is often used to describe the tower, the clock, and the bell, but it originally described the largest of the clock’s five bells, which stands more than 7 feet tall and weighs more than 14 tons. As for the clock’s surrounding tower, it was dubbed Elizabeth Tower in 2012, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 60-year reign.

Goodwill Store Searching for Family of Navy Sailor Whose Purple Heart May Have Been Mistakenly Donated

Feverpitched, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Feverpitched, iStock / Getty Images Plus

When a Goodwill worker in Tucson, Arizona, unearthed a Purple Heart from a donation box in June, it didn’t exactly fit in with the box’s other household items. So Goodwill decided to try to track down the family of the soldier who earned it, CNN reports.

That soldier was Nick D’Amelio Jr., according to the inscription on the medal, which is also inscribed with “S2C, USN.” Military records confirm that he was a U.S. Navy (denoted by the "USN") seaman second class (“S2C”) who was reported missing in action during World War II, after Japanese surface forces gunned down the USS Little in the Solomon Islands on September 5, 1942.

D’Amelio was declared dead the following year, and is now memorialized in Walls of the Missing at The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City, Philippines. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.

Judith Roman Bucasas, director of marketing of Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona, told CNN that she thinks it was an accident that the Purple Heart was donated in the box of housewares. After all, it’s one of the most prestigious awards a member of the military can receive. George Washington himself created the award in 1782 (though he named it the Badge of Military Merit), and General Douglas MacArthur revived it on the bicentennial of Washington’s birthday in 1932, renaming it the Purple Heart.

Goodwill is collaborating with Purple Hearts Reunited, a nonprofit organization that reunites lost or stolen medals with veterans or their families, but since they haven’t had any luck finding D’Amelio’s relatives yet, they decided to call in reinforcements via social media. On Monday, Goodwill posted photos of the Purple Heart on the Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona Facebook page, and asked people to please call 520-623-5174 extension 7039 with any information on D’Amelio or his family.

This isn’t the first time a Purple Heart has been discovered in an Arizona Goodwill—in 2016, a couple found the medal at the jewelry counter, and, with the help of the Facebook community, successfully reunited it with its recipient’s family. Hopefully, the story of Nick D’Amelio Jr.’s Purple Heart will have just as happy an ending.

[h/t CNN]

LEGO Will Display This Thrilling New Avengers: Endgame Set at San Diego Comic-Con

LEGO
LEGO

If you’ve already preordered Avengers: Endgame and are now looking to the skies for your next source of MCU magic, bring your gaze back to Earth: The LEGO Group just unveiled an action-packed set with everything you need to stage an epic battle between the Chitauri and Hulk, Black Widow, and Pepper Potts.

The Avengers Hulk Helicopter Drop set includes two Chitauri soldiers, Hulk, Black Widow, Pepper Potts (bedecked in her Rescue armor), a helicopter with triple stud shooters and the ability to drop Hulk into the fray, and the Chitauris’ Leviathan and stud-shooting flyer.

Avengers Helicopter with Hulk
LEGO

Hulk wears a removable Infinity Gauntlet glove with four Infinity Stones: the orange Soul Stone, red Reality Stone, purple Power Stone, and yellow Mind Stone. The set also includes the blue Space stone and a second green hand for Hulk, which is perfect for reimagining this battle or using the Hulk figurine and Infinity Gauntlet in other Avengers: Endgame LEGO playsets. Remove Pepper Potts’ Rescue helmet and click her attachable hair piece onto her head to prove that even after a brutal clash with the Chitauri, not a hair is out of place.

Pepper Potts in Rescue suit
LEGO

This Avengers set adds up to an impressive 482 pieces, is suitable for children ages 8 and above, and requires no batteries—just build, imagine, and defeat (or be defeated). LEGO will display it for the first time at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, which runs from July 18 to July 21, 2019, and you can buy it yourself for $60 starting November 25, 2019. In the meantime, you can check out LEGO's previous Avengers-related releases on the company's online store.

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