On this date in 1886, the statue _Liberty Enlightening the World_ was formally dedicated. A gift from the People of France, the statue represented the principles of freedom and liberty that the United States was founded on, expressing the desire that the US be a beacon and example to the rest of the world. Her dedication was marked by the first ticker-tape parade, flotilla, and fireworks.
Over time, the statue has taken on additional symbolism. It has appeared on our coins and in our war posters. In the poem The New Colossus, poet Emma Lazarus expressed the statue's role in welcoming immigrants from the world:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "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!"
Happy 125th birthday to the Statue of Liberty. May her light shine in New York harbor and remind us all of the value we place in liberty and freedom for ourselves and for all the world.
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