Feliz Cumpleaños, Statue of Liberty
There are parties, naturalization ceremonies and – in this day and age – tweets, of course, to say Happy Birthday.
The Statue of Liberty, who’s had her nips and tucks here and there, is 125 years old.
It was on October 28, 1886, that Lady Liberty had her dedication. She was a gift from France to the people of the United States to mark the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and friendship between the French and Americans.
Her birthday celebration includes the activation of webcams on her torch that will let viewers gaze out at New York Harbor and read the tablet in her hands or see visitors on the grounds of the island below in real time.
The ceremony caps a week of events centered around the historic date, including the debut of a major museum exhibition about poet Emma Lazarus, who helped bring the monument renown as the "Mother of Exiles."
I've always had a strong feeling for the Statue of Liberty, because it became the statue of my personal liberty
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The statue's webcams will offer views from the torch that have been unavailable to the public since 1916, said Stephen A. Briganti, the president of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Inc.
"The statue is the most famous symbol in the world," he said. "Most of the people in the world have seen it, but they have not seen it like this. It will be a visit that so many people, including New Yorkers, have never taken before."
The majestic statue, with her promise of welcome and refuge, brought tears to the eyes of millions of immigrants at the sight of her as they approached Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954.
Her presence has brought pride in the United States as a world beacon for those fleeing oppression and seeking the freedom and hope she has symbolized.
And she has served as a reminder of standing firm, standing proud, as just across the river from her, the country’s worst terrorist attacks brought the Twin Towers down, and the smoke of their ruins filled the landscape where her torch still reigned.
It was a split screen – the devastation of the decimated towers, the smoke and flames of destruction, and the symbol of determination that Lady Liberty, like the American flag hoisted by the three firefighters on Sept. 11, held firm in the world’s imagination.
Her torch was intended to represent enlightenment, leading the way to freedom. Her original name was “Liberty Enlightening the World.” At her base are broken shackles to symbolize becoming free from oppression and tyranny.
“I've always had a strong feeling for the Statue of Liberty, because it became the statue of my personal liberty,” said poet David Antin.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “Many of America's and New York's sons and daughters are around the world fighting for the freedoms that the Statue of Liberty stands for.”
The Statue of Liberty, 225 tons, was designed by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and completed in Paris in 1884. The statue was sent in hundreds pieces – in more than 200 crates -- to New York.
Initially the famous sonnet by Emma Lazarus in the voice of the statue asking for "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" did not appear on the statue. It was not until 1903 that "The New Colossus" was placed on the pedestal.
Lazarus is the subject of a new exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan, which has views of Lady Liberty. It's to open Wednesday to coincide with the anniversary of the statue's dedication.
Curator Melissa Martens said Lazarus was born into the fourth generation of a Jewish family in New York prominent since colonial times.
"They were some of the early people to articulate the Jewish experience in dialogue with the challenges of freedom and religious liberty," she said.
This story contains material from The Associated Press.
Elizabeth Llorente can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@foxnewslatino.com or on Twitter @LlorenteLatino.
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