One last thing before we sign off for this Friday. Bartholdi's Old Lady in New York Harbor had a birthday today. Not sure how many that makes, but somewhere around more than a century.
School kid's pennies, Pulitzer's efforts to sell newspapers, subscriptions, and a lottery in France (we got along better with the Frogs in those days) all came together to raise the money (privately) to make the Statue of Liberty happen. There is a certain serendipity to that as well. Most things worth doing are worth doing without tax money and all that.
Bertholdi intended the statue as a symbol of enlightenment to the European powers, many of whom were mired in 19th Century style tyranny and oppression. As a young artist and aristocratic Jew, Emma Lazarus was troubled by the injustices directed at Jewish communities in Eastern Europe long before Hitler discovered mustard gas (up close and personal) in the War to End all Wars. In part it inspired her well-known poem, etched in bronze at the base of the statue, and a tribute to those who came to see Lady Liberty as a symbol of welcome to those fleeing Europe for the promise of a new life in America.
And it is, indeed, symbolism, but Emma Lazarus words surely are not a symbolic tribute to the INS, barbed wire, electric fences, the welfare plantation, or what passes for free meds at the county-run emergency room. Rather, they are a symbol of America as a land of opportunity, free from religious persecution. Indeed, the Golden Door. And it is readily apparent to me that each of us is here because of a quirk of fate. At some point, in the near or distant past, our forebears came from somewhere else looking for a better life.
Thomas Edison's 1898 movie of Lady Liberty is available in several formats here.
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