Lady Liberty was built by the French people, as a gift to the American people. It was built and erected by the people, with funds raised by private citizens on both sides of the pond. She stands for faith, for hope, for liberty. This is why she was not a gift to our government, but instead to the ideals for which we stand.
Having fulfilled this “bucket list” place to visit, it was an amazing sight to behold. Recently on PBS, they showed a special on her history, with photos of its progress and the impact of arriving immigrants, as they passed her on the way to Ellis Island. Some of those arriving were my ancestors, in the late 1890’s. She holds a plaque with the date of our nation’s independence, JULY IV MDCCLXXVI. However, the below poem is what is associated with the statue and was used during the fundraiser for the base on which she now rests.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your stored pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This year, celebrating the fourth makes me sad. That’s why honoring Lady Liberty seems more appropriate. The ideals she represents are needed more than ever. Somewhere we lost our way and faith, hope, liberty have waned. We, the people, have the power to make this right. So, whatever your Independence Day holds, I hope it includes thinking about where we started, where we are and where we are heading. We are a nation of mostly immigrants. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.