PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- People across the Philadelphia region gathered Monday to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and, in some cases, people volunteered to honor Dr. King's legacy. A Philadelphia landmark played a fitting, starring role in one event on Monday.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations kicked off at the Liberty Bell on Independence Mall with the ceremonial ringing of the bell at noon.
The 36th annual national bell-ringing ceremony was held in front of a smaller crowd due to COVID-19 protocols, but many local and state officials brought messages either virtually or in-person honoring King's legacy.
"We ring a bell for freedom. We ring the bell for justice," state Sen. Vincent Hughes said. "We ring the bell for equality, but we ring the bell as a call to action."
"Today, we commemorate Dr. King," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, "a man whose service to others brought the promises made right here at Independence Hall to millions of Americans."
The annual event is hosted by the Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence, a group founded by civil rights activist Dr. C. Delores Tucker.
Across town at Girard College, the 13th annual King Day of Service got underway. It's the oldest and largest event in the nation, transforming the King holiday into a day of action for residents.
This year's theme was combating racism and building community.
The in-person and virtual event targeted health and racial injustice issues, offering free vaccinations and COVID-19 testing in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
"Our community vaccination program really is focused on being in communities where there's historically poor access to health care, have had poor access to vaccinations, have had lower uptick in vaccines," said Dr. Sage Myers, medical director at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Also included in Monday's day of service events were job fairs, voter registration drives and distribution of PPE.
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