The Death of Lady Liberty 🗽

One hundred and thirty-three years ago today, the Statue of Liberty came to our shores.  Lady Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of America, arrived in some 200 cartons, in 350 pieces – rather like a puzzle to be put together.  She was reassembled and dedicated the next year and would become known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.

Perhaps we no longer deserve having her grace our harbour.  But first, a bit of history, courtesy of History.com

Intended to commemorate the American Revolution and a century of friendship between the U.S. and France, the statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (who modeled it after his own mother), with assistance from engineer Gustave Eiffel, who later developed the iconic tower in Paris bearing his name. The statue was initially scheduled to be finished by 1876, the 100th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence; however, fundraising efforts, which included auctions, a lottery and boxing matches, took longer than anticipated, both in Europe and the U.S., where the statue’s pedestal was to be financed and constructed. The statue alone cost the French an estimated $250,000 (more than $5.5 million in today’s money).

Finally completed in Paris in the summer of 1884, the statue, a robed female figure with an uplifted arm holding a torch, reached its new home on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor (between New York City and Hudson County, New Jersey) on June 17, 1885. After being reassembled, the 450,000-pound statue was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886, by President Cleveland, who said, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.” Standing more than 305 feet from the foundation of its pedestal to the top of its torch, the statue, dubbed “Liberty Enlightening the World” by Bartholdi, was taller than any structure in New York City at the time. The statue was originally copper-colored, but over the years it underwent a natural color-change process called patination that produced its current greenish-blue hue.

In 1892, Ellis Island, located near Bedloe’s Island (which in 1956 was renamed Liberty Island), opened as America’s chief immigration station, and for the next 62 years Lady Liberty, as the statue is nicknamed, stood watch over the more than 12 million immigrants who sailed into New York Harbor. In 1903, a plaque inscribed with a sonnet titled “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus, written 20 years earlier for a pedestal fundraiser, was placed on an interior wall of the pedestal. Lazarus’ now-famous words, which include “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” became symbolic of America’s vision of itself as a land of opportunity for immigrants.

Some 60 years after President Calvin Coolidge designated the statue a national monument in 1924, it underwent a multi-million-dollar restoration (which included a new torch and gold leaf-covered flame) and was rededicated by President Ronald Reagan on July 4, 1986, in a lavish celebration. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the statue was closed; its base, pedestal and observation deck re-opened in 2004, while its crown re-opened to the public on July 4, 2009. (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.)

Today, the Statue of Liberty is one of America’s most famous landmarks. Over the years, it has been the site of political rallies and protests (from suffragettes to anti-war activists), has been featured in numerous movies and countless photographs, and has received millions of visitors from around the globe.

The Statue of Liberty once stood for something, but today when I read those words … “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, I shake my head, for they are a great hypocrisy.  We no longer welcome immigrants, but rather abuse them, call them names, and take their children from them.  We are planning to spend tens of billions of dollars – enough money to feed those tired and poor for many days, weeks, perhaps even months or a year – to build a huge wall, the sole purpose of which will be to keep immigrants out.

Here is how we greet immigrants today …With the exception of the Indigenous People in this nation, we are all descended from immigrants, but as time and generations have passed, we have become an arrogant lot, believing that somehow we are entitled to more, to better than others.  We no longer welcome the “tired and poor”, but instead would choose, in the words of Donald Trump, “only the best and brightest”.  Huddled masses?  Oh no, throw them in jails and detention centers, humiliate them, berate them, beat them and even kill them.No, my fellow Americans, we no longer deserve the Statue of Liberty for we are no longer the ‘land of the free’, but rather the land of the wealthy.  Only the wealthy are welcome here.  If you or I were attempting to flee to the shores of the U.S. today, would we be welcomed and embraced? I think not, but then … I would not choose to come to this country today, either.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers who have dedicated their lives to being awesome dads!

42 thoughts on “The Death of Lady Liberty 🗽

  1. You are not alone. We too have no room for the wretched fleeing who knows what. We too have monstrous detention centres. But our government has realised we need some of those unwanted and unloved ones to run our country and is letting a few back in.
    When I see how humans have ended up behaving it makes me want to join the west wind and travel the world my feet never touching the ground. Ha. As if! Instead, I take a break from watching the news and it all gets worse. I don’t know how you can all cope, frankly, with that dreadful Man Who Shall Not be Named in the president’s chair. You do know we all sympathise, don’t you?
    [I will get back to you properly when things settle down a little, much is in turmoil at the moment as the digging season looms for the prof. Take care, M x]

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, if only I could join you in that west wind with feet never needing to touch ground. Have I told you that I plan to come back as a wolf in my next life? They are so much purer of spirit, much simpler. Yes, I know that the refugee crisis is not limited to the U.S., but this latest abomination of separating children from their parents has ripped apart the hearts of those of us who have hearts. And yes, dear sweet Mary, I do know you all sympathise and am deeply appreciative. You ask how I cope? More cigarettes, more wine … an occasional kick of a door or wall. And tears in my pillow when I finally drag my bum up to bed around 5:00 a.m. AH … I did not realize there was a ‘season’ for the digging by the archaeologists! Wish the professor well for me, and I will look forward to a long chat when things settle down for you. Meanwhile … hugs ‘n love, my dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We are going to stay with wolves in October! More of that when the time comes. Larry is a prof by university season, so from September through to June, then in July and August he flies south and digs, this year at Victoria Falls. I was planning to go for a while but then saw the price of the airfare – around £1400 yes POUNDS! Sigh. A creative summer beckons, I hope. Hugs to you Jill and I know it’s pointless saying so but don’t push yourself too hard, your health (and you) are precious! xx

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  2. Dry your tears folks.
    The incumbent in the Whitehouse by dint of a quirk in the voting system and the transitory fears of 36,000,000 amount to very little in the Scheme of Histories. Hold close to your own beliefs, ignore the fear mongers and keep your faith.
    These are testing times. They have been here before, and will as before be overtaken and subsumed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As always, Roger, you are the voice of reason and quite right. BUT … what cost in human lives, in our sanity, in our humanity before it turns around? In the beginning, I was convinced that it would all turn around very quickly, for surely everyone could see how inept, how unprepared, how very wrong Trump is for the office he now holds. But, nearly a year and a half, and his approval rating is as high as it’s been since his first week in office. His people still sing his praises and woe to those of us ‘bleedin’ heart liberals’ who dare to challenge him! The only thing I see that might finally lead to some pushback by his followers is his policy of separating children from their parents, for people on both sides of the aisle are incensed over that one. But even there, I’m not sure, for some seem able to justify, at least in their own minds, that he is doing the right thing for the ‘safety’ of the nation. Oh yes, those little children are so threatening, aren’t they? 👿

      Liked by 2 people

      • Denial is one of the most dangerous aspects of human nature Jill, couple that with the refusal (or fear) to admit you made a mistake in voting in the wrong man and folk can become remarkably difficult to convince otherwise. People almost become intimidated by the professional loud-mouths and hate-mongers as well as their acolytes.
        The true test will come in November, BUT, BUT it will require a solid, disciplined and astute campaign by the Democrats AND a lot of restraint by their supports, just one picture of two of three irate young anti-trump protesters turning on an elderly trump supporters will be leapt upon with indecent glee by his propaganda machine.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Dear Jill,

    I’m heartened by the backlash over the president’s policy of separating the children from parents seeking asylum at the US southern border. Peoples are up in arms over this.

    The president wants his hard-line immigration policies passed which shouldn’t pass but whatever the outcome, children should not be used as pawns.

    Lady Liberty has a few dents in her made by this president but if Democrats take back the majority position, maybe we can rescue her and salvage our reputation.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 3 people

    • Absolutely … every person should be up in arms over this! I hope he has finally crossed a line and that it costs him seats in Congress this November, but meanwhile, this abominable policy needs to GO! You are right … children are not pawns, not bargaining chips … they are INNOCENT children!!! Perhaps somebody should take his grandchildren away from their families so he and his ugly children can see how it feels.
      Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, there are three facts that relevant to our future based on our past:
    – immigration is the Foundation of our country coming from all points of the globe;
    – immigration is accretive to the economy (don’t let anyone tell you different); and
    – Innovation is portable; if we don’t grease the skids to keep innovators who go to school or recruit talent, the Innovation will occur elsewhere.

    Now for an opinion. Our country cannot act like a “cold-hearted bastard” or we are just another country. It is hard to be a great country if we treat people like liabilities rather than assets. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • I cannot argue against any of that. But I think that as long as Trump and his cronies are in charge, we will continue to treat people shamelessly, as liabilities rather than assets. The balance sheet doesn’t quite add up right at the moment, does it? It will change … I’m just not sure by what means, or when.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It seems that both of us have our lovely Lady Liberty on our minds. The words of Emma Lazarus on the added plaque gave Lady Liberty a voice, that now many wish to silence and ignore. In view of current events…I should think that had she the ability, she would hike up her robe and stomp back across the ocean. One could hardly blame her. As a country that was built by immigrants, except the ill-treated Native Americans, one would expect far better understanding and acceptance. But, then again, do we not cross our hearts and pledge allegiance ending with the words…”with liberty and justice for all”?!? Thank-you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I think that for most of us, Lady Liberty, and the words “truth”, “justice”, and “equality” are not far from the center of our attention these days. I am hopeful … I believe … that we will take our country back … it’s just a matter of how, and when. I keep hoping that once Trump’s followers realize they have been scammed, they will do their part to help get this horrific ‘man’ out of the White House. Their lobotomies, however, seem to have gone deep. 😉 We’ll get there … it will only take time, I think. Sigh. Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Jill. I love your post but I think you errered in including the photo of Elián González. I followed that case carefully and was here in Florida during it. There was much misinformation and hysterical “democracy fever” at the time. The boy’s mother died at sea. His father was a Cuban who did not know his wife was going to take the child and try to leave, and he did want his son back. He demanded through legal channels that his rights as the child’s father be honored and the child returned. International law and treaties we were signatures to required we return the child. There was an investigation into if the child was mistreated or would be mistreated if returned and they showed the father was a good father to his son. After repeated attempts to get the ones holding the child illegally to see reason and return him, the government had to go in and retrieve him. Remember we required the return of our children taken by a parent to Cuba at that time. The child was in fact being held as a political hostage by an anti-Castro group. Sadly the family holding the child prefered to run into an inner room and into a closet with him and he had to be taken at gunpoint. All to try to make a political point against Castro. If you look him up today you will find he has done very well for himself and he has said he is happen he was returned. Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Sadly as in other cases (namely the real story behind the civil war) America was never expressing empathy for ‘tired and huddled masses ‘ but inviting over a cheap labour pool easily exploited. Now Trump is bringing the national hypocrisy to the fore and high time. Now Americans can see their nation for what it is, giving them an opportunity to make changes and perhaps save their nation and themselves in the bargain . It won’t happen but it’s a thought.

    Liked by 4 people

      • I think it’s part of the balance that some people can be pessimistic, some optimistic and in the middle, that great vat of, what was the term back when, “the silent majority” to keep it coagulated. I’m going to tackle Hugh Curtler’s post on whether we should “fight” to keep civilization going or whether we should bow to the inevitable and let it collapse on itself. (http://hughcurtler.com/2018/06/17/worth-the-price/ )

        If we keep it going, which can only be accomplished through great sacrifices (for example, think the Stalin years of the Soviet Union and the inevitable results), we delay the inevitable plunge into another dark ages, but from my understanding of history, we cannot prevent it. Which is the correct way to proceed? Either way great darkness accompanies the coming future.

        As a species we are takers, rarely fixers. We only know to take, despoil and move on, only now there is no “moving on” possible, even with “new and improved” technology or scientific miracles. Too little too late for we never accepted the fact that we should evolve from a crude predatory nature (the Donald Trump syndrome) into something more in keeping with the realities of our finite environment and its limits. Imperialistic, industrial and technological western civilization has made itself obsolete, painted itself into a corner from which it cannot escape. We are facing the end of our civilization as an entropic energy system.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I have no words … ‘The Statue of Liberty once stood for something, but today when I read those words … “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, I shake my head, for they are a great hypocrisy.”

    Liked by 2 people

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