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The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France

While I’ve never seen the Statue of Liberty up close, I have seen it at a distance. A few years ago I along with some other Tomahawk employees took a whirlwind tour of New York and part of our itinerary was a stop at Battery Park. From Battery Park the Statue of Liberty can be seen at a distance. Even at a distance I was impressed. She has stood steadfast in New York Harbor since 1886. The statue was assembled after being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in three hundred fifty individual pieces packed in more than two hundred cases. The Statue arrived in New York Harbor on June 17, 1885. The dedication was held the following year on October 28. United States President Grover Cleveland presided over the dedication ceremony. The statue has an iron framework faced with copper. It was designated as a National Monument in 1924.
French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi designed the statue. Engineer Gustave Eiffel, who later developed the iconic tower in Paris that bears his name, assisted Bartholdi in the work. Eiffel, an engineer, developed the metal framework while Bartholdi was the designer of the statue. The statue became known around the world as a symbol of freedom and democracy. It was intended to commemorate the American Revolution and a century of friendship between America and France. It was initially scheduled to be finished by 1876 the one-hundredth anniversary of America’s “Declaration of Independence,” but fund raising took longer than expected both in America and France.
Known as the “Father of the Statue of Liberty,” Edouard de Laboulaye first proposed the idea of a monument for the United States. Laboulaye, a prominent and important political thinker in his time, was born on January 18, 1811 in Paris, France. He was a leading expert on the U. S. Constitution and admired America for its freedom and Democracy.
The French people were to finance the statue and the American people would pay for the pedestal. Just the statue alone cost the French an estimated $250,000 (more than $5.5 million in today’s money). Employees of the National Park Service have been caring for the colossal icon since 1933. Poet Emma Lazarus penned a poem that is on a plaque on the statue in which she extols the statue as an icon of freedom and welcome. Often quoted are the last five lines of the poem:
“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.”