The Statue that signifies freedom

“We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected” were the words of the US President Grover Cleveland, on October 28, 1886, when he accepted the Statue of Liberty as a gift from France on behalf of the US.

Those who have watched Hollywood movies with scenes from the city of New York or those who have lived in New York would have seen the iconic statue of a robed Roman liberty goddess. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States. It arrived in New York on June 17, 1885 and 2019 marks the 134th year of its arrival to New York. This 305-feet tall statue was shipped from France in 350 individual pieces in over 200 cases. The statue was assembled in New York and installed at the Liberty Island, off the coast of New York.

The statue of the liberty goddess holds a torch in her right hand above her head and carries a tablet or a tabula ansata (Latin for a tablet with handles) in her left hand. Inscribed on it in Roman numerals is “JULY IV MDCCLXXVI” or July 14, 1776, which is the date when the US Declaration of Independence was passed. The statue also commemorates the abolition of slavery as the statue seems to be moving forward with a broken shackle and a chain lying near her feet.

A representation of European-American cooperation, the statue still today reminds us that international support and cooperation is more important than meager political skirmishes

This copper and iron statue which is a lasting symbol of freedom and democracy was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi with assistance from engineer Gustave Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower. The 450,000-pound Statue of Liberty was an idea of freedom and justice initially conceived by the people and governments of France and the United States to mutually celebrate and exercise freedom for all. Moreover, during the last 132 years, the immigrants coming to New York through sea or air have witnessed the Statue as the first to welcome them, signifying that the United States of America is indeed a land of opportunities for all. Interestingly, the Statue of Liberty is placed facing the Southeast from New York because ships entered the New York harbor from this angle therefore, it was and has been a welcoming symbol for anyone arriving in New York by sea. The original color of the Statue of Liberty was copper, however, over the course of time the color has changed to a shade of blue and green.

Apart from solidifying the friendship between France and the US, the Statue of Liberty was gifted to the US to celebrate its 100 years of independence. This France-US friendship, however, more than an alliance as it is referred to, came forth during the American Revolutionary War or the American War of Independence (1775-1783) when France secretly assisted the Continental Army that defeated the British.

While the Statue’s full name is “Liberty Enlightening the World” it is more commonly known as Statue of Liberty and visitors need to climb 354 stairs to reach its crown comprising 25 windows.

The symbols that are a part of this Statue include seven spikes on the crown signifying the seven oceans and seven continents, which refer to the global notion of liberty. The torch in the statue’s right-hand shows the path to liberty, the broken shackles show freedom from oppression, the tablet is an icon of the establishment of law and the pedestal shows the power of ancient Europe. A representation of European-American cooperation, the statue still today reminds us that international support and cooperation is more important than meager political skirmishes. Moreover, the statue, representing a woman, was installed in the US when no woman had the right to participate in federal elections. Over the last many decades a number of poems, songs and stories have been inspired by the Statue of Liberty for it strongly signifies democracy.

The writer is an independent researcher, author and columnist

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