July 4, 2016

MESSAGE OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY - The Promise of the Golden Door

The Promise of the Golden Door
written by Julie Redstone
[source: Light Omega]
"A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name, Mother of Exiles."
The Statue of Liberty faces outward toward the nations, holding aloft the torch of freedom, the flame of hope, the promise of the future. She holds this torch high in the daytime and during the night as well. She shines her light in the midst of darkness.

This symbol of freedom and hope was presented by the people of France to the people of the United States in 1886 in honor of the friendship between the two nations. Yet, the Statue belongs to all people. Her message is universal, speaking to the hearts of those who cherish freedom everywhere.

Liberty's image is one of strength, majesty, and hope, visible in her eternally raised right arm which carries the torch of freedom. Holding aloft a light that never fails, she represents hope to the hopeless, welcome to the poor, courage to the meek. Facing outward toward the ocean, her lamp is a beacon on stormy seas, drawing to her shores, those from afar who seek a better life. For these, and for countless others who embrace her message, the Statue of Liberty represents the Golden Door.

What is the Golden Door?

It is the entrance into liberty and freedom from oppression that is the promise of America - a land, a people, a way of life.

It is also the freedom of spirit and of choice that was declared an inalienable right in the Declaration of Independence - a document whose date of execution, July 4th, 1776, is inscribed on the tablet she carries. The Statue welcomes all to this door - the lost, the needy, the rejected, the exiled. She invites them to step through it into freedom.

Liberty's comforting presence is increasingly needed when the sea of world events becomes more stormy, the waves higher. In times of turbulence, her light is reassuring, her presence, a guarantor of safety.

Immortalized in the poem of Emma Lazarus, the Statue speaks eternally the words of compassion: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." These words from the "The New Colossus," written in 1883, appear on the Statue's pedestal.
"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 storied 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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The Statue of Liberty was originally called "Liberty Enlightening the World," and this is truly her task - to enlighten mankind to the noble ideals of freedom that belong to each one, and to hold high the standard of hope that light will always triumph over darkness. This is the promise represented in the Statue - that through every conflict, war, or loss, through every dispossession or abandonment of principle, the torch of freedom will continue to be held high.


[source: Statue of Liberty Organization]

The Statue of Liberty National Monument officially celebrated her 100th birthday on October 28, 1986. The people of France gave the Statue to the people of the United States over one hundred years ago in recognition of the friendship established during the American Revolution. Over the years, the Statue of Liberty's symbolism has grown to include freedom and democracy as well as this international friendship.

Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design a sculpture with the year 1876 in mind for completion, to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The Statue was a joint effort between America and France and it was agreed upon that the American people were to build the pedestal, and the French people were responsible for the Statue and its assembly here in the United States. However, lack of funds was a problem on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In France, public fees, various forms of entertainment, and a lottery were among the methods used to raise funds. In the United States, benefit theatrical events, art exhibitions, auctions and prize fights assisted in providing needed funds.

Meanwhile in France, Bartholdi required the assistance of an engineer to address structural issues associated with designing such a colossal copper sculpture. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) was commissioned to design the massive iron pylon and secondary skeletal framework which allows the Statue's copper skin to move independently yet stand upright. Back in America, fund raising for the pedestal was going particularly slowly, so Joseph Pulitzer (noted for the Pulitzer Prize) opened up the editorial pages of his newspaper, "The World" to support the fund raising effort. Pulitzer used his newspaper to criticize both the rich who had failed to finance the pedestal construction and the middle class who were content to rely upon the wealthy to provide the funds. Pulitzer's campaign of harsh criticism was successful in motivating the people of America to donate.

Financing for the pedestal was completed in August 1885, and pedestal construction was finished in April of 1886. The Statue was completed in France in July, 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June of 1885 on board the French frigate "Isere" which transported the Statue of Liberty from France to the United States. In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue was re-assembled on her new pedestal in four months time. On October 28th 1886, the dedication of the Statue of Liberty took place in front of thousands of spectators. She was a centennial gift ten years late.

The story of the Statue of Liberty and her island has been one of change. The Statue was placed upon a granite pedestal inside the courtyard of the star-shaped walls of Fort Wood (which had been completed for the War of 1812.) The United States Lighthouse Board had responsibility for the operation of the Statue of Liberty until 1901. After 1901, the care and operation of the Statue was placed under the War Department. A Presidential Proclamation declared Fort Wood (and the Statue of Liberty within it) a National Monument on October 15th, 1924 and the monument's boundary was set at the outer edge of Fort Wood. In 1933, the care and administration of the National Monument was transferred to the National Park Service. On September 7, 1937, jurisdiction was enlarged to encompass all of Bedloe's Island and in 1956, the island's name was changed to Liberty Island. On May 11, 1965, Ellis Island was also transferred to the National Park Service and became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. In May of 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Lee Iacocca to head up a private sector effort to restore the Statue of Liberty. Fundraising began for the $87 million restoration under a public/private partnership between the National Park Service and The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., to date the most successful public-private partnership in American history. In 1984, at the start of the Statue's restoration, the United Nations designated the Statue of Liberty as a World Heritage Site. On July 5, 1986 the newly restored Statue re-opened to the public during Liberty Weekend, which celebrated her centennial.

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