Columns

AS I SEE IT (Elpidio Estioko): Statue of Liberty: A taste of history

I have been hearing the greatness of the Statue of Liberty in New York even when I was still in high school up to college in the Philippines. When my family immigrated to the US in 1997, I thought I will be able to visit and see the Statue the soonest possible time to appreciate its significance and symbolism, but 24 years past, I haven’t been in New York and had no chance of seeing and visiting the Statue of Liberty in the Liberty Island and adjoining Ellis Island.

At the end of the year 2023, however, a perfect 5-day holiday vacation for the family was organized and funded by my children to visit New York, New Jersey and Atlantic City. On December 25 – 31, 2023, with two rented vehicles with a total passenger of 12 (my wife Delia, myself, 5 of my 6 children, 2 sons-in-law, and 3 grandchildren from Hawaii, South Carolina, Manteca, Milpitas, and Florida), we drove to New York, from Blythewood, South Carolina, home of my daughter Tweety, her husband Jonathan and 3-year-old daughter Ellie  and getting our hotel in New Jersey (Delta Hotels/Marriot), just in time for the weekend escapade of New York, Atlantic City and New Jersey.

From there, we appreciated the singular symbol of hope and spirit: the Statue of Liberty.

We were part of millions of visitors/travelers all over the globe, who lined up for the cruise. I learned that the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation honors the American experience through its preservation and support of these two great monuments and restoring the Statue to creating a world-class museum and much more.

To get to Liberty and Ellis Islands, we took a ferry from Liberty State Park in New Jersey. We were told that the Statue City Cruises is the only authorized concessionaire permitted to sell tickets and provide ferry access to Liberty and Ellis Islands. Tickets were purchased ahead of time by my children May/Steve from Manteca, Jason from Milpitas, Paul from Hawaii, Jojo/Kayla/Bibay from Florida, and Tweety/Jonathan/Ellie, from South Carolina. My daughter Gigi with her husband Eric also chipped in to make the 5-day holiday vacation possible.

My 3-year-old granddaughter Ellie enjoyed seeing the statue standing at 305 feet (93 meters) high including its pedestal. Her mom Tweedy explained to her what the woman holding a torch in her raised right hand and a tablet bearing the adoption date of the Declaration of Independence (Jul 4, 1776) in her left what it represents. My wife Delia said “awesome” seeing the torch which measures 29 feet (8.8 meters) from the frame tip to the bottom. My son Paul from Hawaii explained the statue commemorated the friendship of the peoples of the United States and France.

The Statue of Liberty (officially named Liberty Enlengthening the World and sometimes referred to as Lady Liberty) is a monument symbolizing the United States.  New York’s Statue of Liberty was a gift of international friendship from France to the United States, and is one of the most universal symbols of democracy.

Located on the 12-acre Liberty Island in New York Harbor, The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and was designated a National Monument on October 15, 1924.

The Statue of Liberty is located in New York on Liberty Island. It is a statue of a woman holding a torch in her right hand and a tablet in her left hand with the date of the Declaration of Independence in Roman numerals: July 4, 1776. Her crown has seven points that represent rays of light and also the seven seas and continents; the original name for the statue is “Liberty Enlightening the World.” There are broken chains, or shackles, at her feet that also symbolize her freedom.

In 1865, French historian and professor Edouard de Laboulaye proposes the idea of presenting the United States with a monument to commemorate the young country’s upcoming centennial. Early 1870s – Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi travels to the United States to drum up support for the project. November 1875 – The Franco-American Union forms to raise funds and carry out the project. It is decided that France will build the statue and the United States will build the pedestal upon which the statue will stand.1875-1882 – French citizens are enthusiastic about the project and raise approximately $250,000 through fundraisers and lotteries. The French government does not contribute to the building of the statue.1876 – The completed torch and the right forearm of the statue are displayed in Philadelphia and New York to encourage donations.1883-1885 – Publisher Joseph Pulitzer champions the project in the pages of his New York World newspaper and Americans grow enthusiastic about the statue.1883 – Poet Emma Lazarus writes the sonnet, “The New Colossus” to raise money for the pedestal. It ends with lines added to the base of the statue in 1903: “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!” It becomes a symbol of welcome for immigrants. July 1884 – The statue is completed in France. June 1885 – The statue arrives in New York Harbor aboard the French ship “Isere.” April 1886 – The pedestal is completed. October 28, 1886 – President Grover Cleveland dedicates the Statue of Liberty. (Wikipedia)

With our visit to New York, New Jersey and the Atlantic City, during the 2023 5-day children-sponsored holidays, I had a taste of history which I have been longing for!

Thank you, children! Happy Holidays!