Happy birthday, Lady Liberty

statueThe Statue of Liberty, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi, was dedicated on Oct 28th, 1886, 125 years ago yesterday. It was a gift from the people of France, and is located on Liberty Island, South of Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay. The lady with her torch and her tablet represents the Roman goddess of freedom. There is a broken chain at her feet to complete the message.

The statue has become a symbol of freedom the world over. For many immigrants arriving in New York by boat, it was one of their first sights of America. Engraved on a bronze plaque inside the base are the famous lines by Emma Lazarus:

"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!"

The lines themselves, like the statue, have been a source of inspiration to those who came to the United States to escape from tyranny and persecution and to make a better life for themselves in the US.

Even today the statue is a powerful symbol reminding people that America was "a nation conceived in liberty," a liberty that needs to be protected and reinforced against the encroachments of governments and bureaucracy. Many of America's liberties are protected in its constitution, some better than others.

On her hundred and twenty-fifth birthday the lady holds her torch up to the world, as well as to America, inspiring us to value liberty over security, and to live our lives by our own values rather than conform to the prevailing views of how others think we ought to live. Happy birthday!