On June 17, 1885…129 years ago today, the Statue of Liberty, in a dismantled form, arrived in New York Harbor. It was a gift from France to commemorate our friendship with them during the American Revolution. While the Statue of Liberty would not be officially assembled and dedicated until October 8th, 1886, this was it’s official arrival. The Statue of Liberty’s 300 copper pieces packed in 214 crates were transported on the French ship “Isere” to America. Although the ship nearly sank in rough seas, it arrived in New York on June 17, 1885. The Statue’s parts remained unassembled for nearly a year until the pedestal was completed in 1886. What really shocks me is that there were only 350 parts to make up the Statue of Liberty. That seems impossible. Having been to, and inside the Statue of Liberty, I know how big it is. I would have guessed more like 1000 pieces. Today Lady Liberty has become known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.
Having been to the Statue of Liberty, I find it very interesting to think that it arrived here 129 years ago today. I don’t know how many of you have been inside the statue, or how far up you were able to go, but I have been to the crown. I was very disappointed that we could not go to the torch, but for safety reasons, the torch has been closed to visitors since 1916, after an incident called the Black Tom explosions in which munitions-laden barges and railroad cars on the Jersey City, New Jersey, waterfront were blown up by German agents, causing damage to the nearby statue. That was something I didn’t know, and sadly there was nothing that would change it, but I was inside the Statue of Liberty, and it was so amazing…like a dream, not a reality!! I know that lots of people have been there and lots have been inside, and lots have even been to the crown, but I had not…and then I had…and, it was surreal!!
When I think about all the people who have sailed past this statue as they came to their new home…and how many of them were my ancestors or Bob’s ancestors, it is just mind boggling. If she could talk…what stories could she tell. The Statue of Liberty has seen so much. Ships have come and gone, immigrants have arrived, the city has changed…and been attacked. What stories she could tell of happiness, sadness, floods, hurricanes, and terrorism. She has seen the transformation of her near neighbor from the location of Fort Gibson, to the current site of the Ellis Island Immigrant Station. She watched the planes fly into the World Trade Center…and their fall. When I think about all the changes that have taken place in our nation since Lady Liberty arrived, I wish she could speak, because the stories she could tell of our nation’s history would be amazing.