(dc council photo/It seems too large to vanish, but nobody seems to know the whereabouts of the District’s replica Liberty Bell, which has been gone these many years. )

On the eve of July 4, which is an obviously appropriate time, the D.C. Council announced a search to find the city’s missing Liberty Bell.

It is only a replica of the original Liberty Bell, which is an icon of American independence and is on display in Philadelphia.

But it is a big bell, it is — or at least it was — our bell, and it is lost. It is equal in size to the original, the council said, and it weighs a ton. Literally.

According to the council, the 2,000-pound bell was given to the city by the federal government on July 20, 67 years ago.

It was presented in recognition of exceeding the sales goals for U.S. savings bonds. Apparently every state, every U.S. territory and the U.S. Treasury Department were given one of the bells.

At first, the D.C. bell was on display at the top of the steps of what was then the District Building, now the Wilson Building.

Later it was moved to a small park in front of the building.

Then, as beautification work on Pennsylvania Avenue got underway, it became necessary to move the bell. Several other small monuments also required temporary relocation.

The other monuments were all eventually returned to their original sites, according to the council.

But not the bell. On Monday, atop its announcement, the council urged: “Help Us Find the Liberty Bell.”

The bell was at its site on April 2, 1979. But, the council said, by July 30, 1981, it had been declared missing.

Meanwhile, it can not be concluded that the bell was hidden in plain sight. The council said the Liberty Bell it seeks is NOT the double-sized replica in front of Union Station. Nor is it the replica between the Treasury Building and the White House.

No tip is too small, the council said. Those with information can contact Josh Gibson at 202-741-0897 or jgibson@dccouncil.us.

As to where the bell might be, the value of the metal in it probably ought not to be ignored. Current prices for scrap brass or bronze are about a dollar per pound. At such prices, the bell, at least in theory, could bring about $2,000 in cash.

However, melting away the inscription on the bell would seem almost sacrelegious. The words come from the book of Leviticus, and read:

“Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.”