Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Statue of Liberty

A Symbol of our Freedom

by Martha Rogers

I have never been to New York City, but I’ve heard about the Statue of Liberty all my life. Imagine the thrill of those immigrants in the late 19th century coming into the harbor and seeing her for the first 
time. I’m sure I’d be as much in awe now

as people were back then. She is a symbol of freedom and liberty to people all over the world, yet the story of her structure is one that covers a number of years and some controversy.
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was named to design a sculpture for the statue with a deadline of 1876 to coordinate with America’s centennial.

He chose the robed figure of a woman to represent Libertas, Roman goddess of liberty. She holds a torch above her head with her right hand and carries a tablet in her left. The tablet is inscribed in Roman numerals with “JULY IV MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776), the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. At her feet lies a broken chain representing freedom, thus leading her to become the icon of freedom and a welcome sight for those immigrants coming to America. Here is a close up of her face and crown.

Because Bartholdi needed an engineer to help with the design, he enlisted Alexandre Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame to provide assistance with structural issues. His expertise helped to make the final structure stand upright.

In the beginning, funds were hard to come by and tedious for both Americans and Frenchmen. Entertainment, public fees, and a national lottery were means used to help with the fund in France. In America, things did not go as smoothly or quickly. Auctions, entertainment, and even fights were arranged to help. Joseph Pulitzer became a catalyst to get the American movement going. He wrote an editorial for his newspaper and put pressure on the rich and middle class to help provide funds.

In 1885, the finances for the pedestal were completed, and the construction completed in April of 1886. The statue had been finished and waiting in France since 1884. In order to get here her, she had to be broken down into 350 pieces and packed in 214 crates. Now that’s a big statue. 

The picture at right is the torch that was first used, but it has since been replaced because of the age and
deterioration of the first one.  It is on 
display there at the museum. 

Here is how it looks today. 

Ten years later than the 1876 target date, on October 28, 1886, she was dedicated and placed on the granite pedestal within the star-shaped walls of Fort Wood. New York City’s first ticker-tape parade took place and President Grover Cleveland presided over the dedication.

Various groups have been assigned to her care and upkeep. Until 1901, that responsibility fell on United States Lighthouse Board. In 1903, the Emma Lazarus Poem, “The New Colossus”, was written for the statue and engraved on a bronze plaque, 20 years after it was written.

“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:”

Those words give me chills even as I read them today. So many thousands of people have come to our shores for the very reasons stated in the poem.

After the Lighthouse Board, the war department took over in 1901. On October 15, 1924, she was declared to be a National Monument by Presidential Proclamation that included Ft. Wood.  In 1933 she was placed in care of the National Park Service which later expanded to include Bedloe Island. In 1956, the name was changed to Liberty Island.

Not until 1965 was Ellis Island transferred to the National Park Service to become part of the monument. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan began a campaign to restore the monument at the cost of $87 million dollars. In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was declared as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. Reconstruction was completed on July 5, 1986, one hundred years after her first dedication.

Originally, tourists could explore all parts of the statue, including the arm and torch she held high. The crown contained observation windows for tourists to look out over the harbor.  In 1916, the arm and torch area were declared unsafe and shut off from tourists.

In order to comprehend how huge the statute is, remember it was shipped in 214 crates. Parts of her were sent to various places to be on display. The Centennial Exposition in 

Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 displayed the torch and arm. Other parts were displayed elsewhere. This is her foot to give you some perspective of her colossal size. 

After September 11, 2001, she was closed for 100 days. The grounds re-opened, but the statue remained closed until August of 2004. Today visitors may tour the island and go to the pedestal observation deck to view the harbor. Tourists also have access to a promenade, museum, Fort Wood and Ellis Island. Although I have never seen the Statue of Liberty in person, her image still brings a lump to my throat and thankfulness for this country to my heart. 

My new novella, Freedom's Journey tells the story of a young woman who came as an immigrant in 1887 will be released in February.

After her grandmother's death in England, Rosemary Beckett is left with only a house and no means of support. An old friend of her deceased father offers her a position as governess to his grandchildren. He pays her passage and Rosemary embarks on her journey. When they arrive in New York Harbor, she meets a charming young man who catches her interest, but because he's a first class passenger, she flees the ship without revealing her identify. Alexander Cartwright finds her again when he visits his brother and sees her as the governess. He believes this is God's answer to his prayers to find her, but her heart is locked against any relationship with a family member. He is determined to break that lock and set her heart free for love.

Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to four. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is the Director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston in August each year, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.

Find Martha at:


  1. I have been blessed to be able to go to NYC and see both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Ellis Island was amazing to me, the portal to so many entering this country full of hope for a better future. My hope is that people entering the U.S. now would respect the fact that they have chosen to come here and become Americans. We are a diverse clan with many backgrounds, but when we choose America, we choose to uphold what She has stood for for so long.....

    1. So many have come and made great contributions to our society. It sickens me when others don't appreciate what is here. We are indeed a melting pot of cultures. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful story of partly finding herself and her own worth.
    I have never been to NYC. It is on my list of to do right up there with taking a Disney cruise. Thank you for a wonderful post. A lot of great information.
    quilting dash lady at Comcast dot net

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to go to New York to see the statue as well as a few other things.

  3. The Statue of Liberty is really something to see. Thank you for sharing your wonderful post... always interesting and informative. mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    2. The research was fascinating. So many beautiful pictures are available that it was hard to choose.

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  5. One day I hope to see the Statue of Liberty first hand, but I never have. What an incredible gift to our nation. I had to learn about "her" when writing Belle of the Wild West, because her dedication parade, etc., took place when Buffalo Bill's Wild West was camped out in NY for an extended stint of performances. I remember seeing photos of the torch on exhibit at the Centennial and being amazed at the size ... still can't really imagine it. Someday! Your book sounds like a GREAT read!

    1. Well, I'm going to have to get your book if it's still available. I loved all the stories about Buffalo Bill's shows and loved Annie Oakley. Research talked about the colossal size of the statue, but I had no idea exactly how huge she is. It's mind boggling to think about.

  6. I've never seen the Statue of Liberty, but have enjoyed historical fiction with mention of it. I'm like you, reading the words brings chills and tears to my eyes. The impace The Statue of Liberty has had on all her has arrived there. Thank you for sharing. Freedom's Journey sounds like a great book to read. I'll be adding it to my ever growing TBR list.

    1. I imagined how I would feel to see her for the first time when my heroine Rosemary sees her in the New York Harbor. The poem came later, but those people in steerage must have been elated to finally arrive in the land of liberty. Thanks for stopping by Marilyn.

  7. I have always wanted to visit The Statue of Liberty. I memorized the poem many years ago and I have never forgotten the meaning behind those words! Thank you for sharing this post.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Connie. That poem always gives me chills.