Statue of Liberty

There are many shrines in the United States—Mount Vernon, Valley Forge, the Liberty Bell, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers—but the towering shrine that stands in New York Harbor, in my opinion, symbolizes for us and the whole world the spirit and soul of America.
What is that shrine? The Statue of Liberty.
Today I want to take you back in time about 100 years to the year 1876. The American people were celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence. Laboulaye, a French statesman and Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, a famous French sculptor, planned the gift of a gigantic statue to commemorate the friendship that had existed between France and the United States during the first 100 years.
The statue was started in 1876, but was not completed for 8 years, in 1884. The statue was dismantled and shipped to America and reassembled on Bedloes Island, later renamed Liberty Island. President Grover Cleveland dedicated the statue in 1886. The statue is a heroic figure of a woman representing freedom. In her right hand, she holds aloft a burning torch. In her left hand, she holds a book of law inscribed with the words “July 4th 1776.”
The statue stands 151 feet high. The tip of the torch is 305 feet above sea level. The width of her face is 10 feet; her eyes are 2 feet 6 inches across. The right arm that holds the torch is 42 feet long and her waist is 35 feet around. The statue is made of hammered copper, 1/8 inch thick, suspended on a steel frame weighing 225 tons.
The statue was declared a national monument by President Coolidge in 1924 and is now administered by the National Park Service. The official title of the statue is “Liberty Enlightening the World.” Most historians believe that the inspiration for Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty was the legendary “Colossus of Rhodes,” a giant statue of the Sun God “Helios” that stood astride the entrance to the harbor of the ancient Greek island of Rhodes and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Colossus of Rhodes took twelve years to build. It was 130 feet tall, 21 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty. It was later destroyed by an earthquake.
Now here is one final item of historical significance. There is a poem of rare beauty engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Do you know the name of the woman who wrote this poem? Emma Lazarus.
Emma Lazarus was a native American of Jewish descent. The committee raising money to build the pedestal for the statue asked a number of writers to donate manuscripts that would be sold at a public auction. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman and many others, including Emma Lazarus were asked to contribute. The contribution by Emma Lazarus consisted of a short poem of 14 lines that has become immortal. The title of her poem is “The New Colossus” and in its first line she refers to “The brazen giant of Greek fame,” referring to the Colossus of Rhodes. This poem has become a part of world literature and will be remembered as long as liberty’s statue stands majestically enlightening the world.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,With conquering limbs astride from land to land;Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall standA mighty woman with a torch, whose flameIs the imprisoned lightning and her nameMother of exiles. From her beacon-handglows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes commandThe air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp,” cries sheWith 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-tost to me.I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

1 comment:

  1. Considering the completely different breed of immigrants we now have, perhaps Ellin Anderson's Petrarchan sonnet should be considered as a replacement:

    http://www.ellinanderson.com/OldGlory.html

    ReplyDelete