AMERICAN MINUTE WITH BILL FEDERER
The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World was dedicated OCTOBER 28, 1886.
A gift from France, it weighs 450,000 lbs, and stands on a pedestal base, rising 305 feet from the ground to the top of its torch.
Earlier immense statues in history having symbolic meaning were the Colossus of Rhodes – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – and the Colossus of Nero, from which the nearby amphitheater in Rome took its name – Colosseum, both statues being over 100 feet high.
French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi spent two years designing an earlier version of the Statue of Liberty to stand as a lighthouse to guide ships to the entrance of the French built Suez Canal, completed in 1869.
Unfortunately, Ismail Pasha, the Khedive (Viceroy) of Egypt and Sudan, could not afford it.
The Statue of Liberty given to America, designed by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, was constructed by Gustave Eiffel, the builder of the Eiffel Tower.
“The statue was born for this place which inspired its conception. May God be pleased to bless my efforts and my work, and to crown it with success, the duration and the moral influence which it ought to have.”
At the Statue’s dedication ceremony, Reverend Richard S. Storrs prayed:
”Our Heavenly Father … by whose counsel and might the courses of the worlds are wisely ordained and irresistibly established … We bless and praise Thee …
It is in Thy favor, and through the operation of the Gospel of Thy Grace, that cities stand in quiet prosperity; that peaceful commerce covers the seas …
We pray that the Liberty which it represents may continue … for all the nations of the earth; that in equity and charity their sure foundations may be established … that they may be ever the joyful servants of Him to whose holy dominion and kingdom shall be no end.”
Dwight Eisenhower remarked April 8, 1954:
”I have just come from … the dedication of a new stamp … The stamp has on it a picture of the Statue of Liberty and ‘In God We Trust’ …
It represents … a Nation whose greatness is based on a firm unshakeable belief that all of us mere mortals are dependent upon the mercy of a Superior Being.”
Franklin Roosevelt spoke welcoming those legally immigrating and desiring to assimilate, October 17, 1939:
“Remembering the words written on the Statue of Liberty, let us lift a lamp beside new golden doors and build new refuges for the tired, for the poor, for the huddled masses yearning to be free.”
In the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, on a bronze plaque, is the poem “The New Colossus,” written in 1883 by the American Jewish poet Emma Lazarus:
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!”
Emma Lazarus’ poem of inspired Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, the daughter of American poet Nathanial Hawthorne, to found the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne in 1900 to care for those dying of cancer.
Emma Lazarus’ poem was turned into a song in the 1949 musical “Miss Liberty,” composed by Irving Berlin, the Jewish composer of “God Bless America.”
On the Statue of Liberty’s 50th Anniversary, OCTOBER 28, 1936, Franklin D. Roosevelt stated:
”Millions … adopted this homeland because … the things they most desired could be theirs – freedom of opportunity, freedom of thought, freedom to worship God …”
“Rulers … increase their power over the common men. The seamen they sent to find that gold found instead the way of escape for the common man from those rulers.
What they found over the Western horizon was not the silk and jewels of Cathay but mankind’s second chance – a chance to create a new world after he had almost spoiled an old one.
The Almighty seems purposefully to have withheld that second chance until the time when men would most need and appreciate liberty …”
“For over three centuries a steady stream of men, women and children followed the beacon of liberty …
They brought to us strength and moral fiber developed in a civilization centuries old but fired anew by the dream of a better life …
The overwhelming majority of those who came from … the Old World to our American shores were not the laggards, not the timorous, not the failures …”
“They were men and women who had the supreme courage to strike out for themselves, to abandon language and relatives, to start at the bottom without influence, without money …
Perhaps Providence did prepare this American continent to be a place of the second chance.”
Relighting the Statue of Liberty, July 3, 1986, Ronald Reagan said:
“I’ve always thought that a Providential Hand had something to do with the founding of this country, that God had His reasons for placing this land here between two great oceans to be found by a certain kind of people.”
John Adams wrote in his notes on A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765:
“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder,as th e opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.”
President John F. Kennedy proclaimed October 28, 1961:
”We give thanks … for the heritage of liberty bequeathed by our ancestors which we are privileged to preserve for our children and our children’s children …
I ask the head of each family to recount to his children the story of the first New England Thanksgiving, thus to impress upon future generations the heritage of this nation born in toil, in danger, in purpose, and in the conviction that right and justice and freedom can through man’s efforts persevere and come to fruition with the blessing of God.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:
”America is another name for opportunity. Our whole history appears like a last effort of Divine Providence in behalf of the human race.”
Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet.
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