One big immigrant
On this day in….
….1885 — A big and famous woman arrived in America, the land of immigrants. Her name? The Statue of Liberty.
The Statue of Liberty (more properly known as “Liberty Enlightening the World”) was a gift of the people of France to commemorate the American Revolution and one hundred years of friendship between France and the United States. She was designed by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi with assistance from Gustave Eiffel, the engineer who later designed and built the Eiffel Tower.
Although the statue was was supposed to be delivered and dedicated in 1876, fundraising efforts to build the statues pedestal on Bedloe’s Island took longer than anticipated. The statue cost the French people about $250,000, or more than $5.5 million of inflation-adjusted Euros.
From the bottom of its pedestal to the top of its torch, the Statue of Liberty is more than 305 feet tall and was taller than any structure in New York City in 1882.
She was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland on October 28, 1886, with the words, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.” In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge designated her a National Monument, and after a lengthy restoration in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan re-dedicated her on July 4, 1986.
After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the statue was closed to visitors, reopening in 2004, although you could not climb the stairs to the crown again until July 4, 2009.
As a schoolchild in Kingsville, Texas, I memorized the sonnet at the base of the Statue of Liberty for my English class:
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 sonnet is titled “The New Colossus” and was written by Emma Lazarus as a donation to the auction of art and literary works to be conducted by the “Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty.” It was not added to the Statue’s base until 1903.
For trivialists, the line “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” left out the first comma in the inscripton, thereby reading “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” Hmmm.
Somehow I suspect that today’s children, as well as our illustrious politicians, have never read the poem. [That sentence was an editorial statement by the owner of this blog. :)]
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Posted on June 17, 2012, in Halls of History, History, History Through Philately and tagged scott stamp catalogue, statue of liberty, statue of liberty airmail stamps, statue of liberty on stamps, statue of liberty u.s. stamps. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.