The Lady with the Torch by
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Prompted By My Hometown

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Like many New Yorkers I’m sure,   I don’t take in the local sights unless out-of-towners are in town!   So when friends from China were visiting recently we decided to take them to the Statue of Liberty where I probably hadn’t been since I was a school kid.

Tickets to tour the pedestal or climb the crown were sold out,  apparently it’s always tourist season in New York and you have to book well in advance.  But we were able to get tickets for a recorded,  self-guided tour around the statue that was available in many languages.   Our friends listened in Mandarin,  and we all found it fascinating.

We were reminded that the Frenchmen who gave us the statue in tribute to our nation’s democratic principles were themselves embittered by the unfulfilled goals of their own revolution – France in the 19th century was again ruled by a monarch,  Napoleon III.   But how many of our own grand,  revolutionary ideals have long gone unrealized?

Our country,  created in the 1770’s as a haven from an oppressor was itself a slave-holding nation,  and would be for another century.   And indeed it’s legacy of systemic racism is with us still.

And what about the rights of women?   This statue,  the most recognizable symbol of liberty,  was crafted in the image of a woman,  and the poem indelibly linked to it was written by a woman.  Yet when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886,  women were not allowed to attend the ceremony,  nor did American women have the right to vote.   It was over 30 years later,  when my own mother was two years old,  that the 19th Amendment was ratified,  as stunning as that sounds.

After the ferry ride back to Manhattan we walked out of Battery Park and passed the National Museum of the American Indian,  a reminder of another ugly chapter in our country’s history,  another legacy at odds with those lofty revolutionary goals.

Yet despite all that’s far from perfect in our country today,  when I’d come home from a trip abroad I often felt like kissing the ground at Kennedy Airport.   May that still be true!

Feng,  Danny,  me  & John at the Statue.

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!
www.WorldThruBrownEyes.com

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Tags: Statue of Liberty, New York City

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Your words ring particularly true right now, with a deranged, racist, demagogue sitting in the White House and the nation’s ugly past coming home to roost. Yet, perhaps we have reached the inflection point and can begin the process of true change. We were founded on some lofty ideals, even if the writers of our founding documents were slave holders and denied women their place in society. Still, we can hope, and vote and protest and make this country a better place; true to the ideals on which it was founded.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    This is a sobering reminder for the 4th of July. This land that we love was built on lots of oppression and discrimination. Just watched Hamilton last night (which was great). Although I have already seen it on stage, it seemed like a fitting contrast to Trump’s Black Hills rally/speech.

  3. If home is where the heart is, I guess the same could be said for hometown. I love your love for NYC, Dee!

  4. Marian says:

    Cool recap, Dana, and fits my feelings about NYC and this country.

  5. Suzy says:

    I remember my first visit to the Statue of Liberty with my Girl Scout troop in 5th grade. I’m pretty sure we got to go up into the torch then. I didn’t go again until I had kids, but took them several times when they were young. The ferry ride is so great, and then Ellis Island is fascinating. Hope you stopped there with your Chinese visitors too.

    • Sounds like you got to Miss Liberty much more than I did, Suzy!

      And alas no we didn’t stop at Ellis Island either. But maybe we’ll get there the next time we have visitors – unless Jersey Boys is back on Bway and we’ll take them there!

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