The Statue of Liberty stands 305 feet on her majestic pedestal. This majestic copper statue was given by the people of France to the people of the United States. It was intended to be finished by 1876, the one-hundredth anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence, but fundraising efforts took longer than anticipated.
Lady Liberty is in the news today because it was on this day in 1885 that she arrived in New York Harbor. She was shipped from France across the Atlantic Ocean in 350 individual pieces packed in more than 200 cases, then reassembled.
The statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who modeled it after his own mother. He was assisted by engineer Gustave Eiffel, who later developed the iconic tower in Paris that bears his name.
Dubbed “Liberty Enlightening the World,” the statue was taller than any structure in New York City at the time. It was originally copper-colored but underwent a natural color-change process over the years that produced its current greenish-blue hue.
Ellis Island, located near Bedloe’s Island (which in 1956 was renamed Liberty Island) opened in 1892 as America’s chief immigration station. For the next sixty-two years, Lady Liberty stood watch over more than twelve million immigrants who sailed as she had into New York harbor.
My wife and I visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island a few years ago, making a memory we’ll have for the rest of our lives. I had seen the statue in movies and photos over the years, of course, and flown over it numerous times. But I had never seen it up close.
The statue portrays a proud woman dressed in a loose robe which cascades in graceful folds to the top of the pedestal on which she stands. In her right hand she holds a great torch raised high in the air. In her left arm she grasps a tablet bearing the date of the Declaration of Independence.
A crown with huge spikes like sunrays rests on her head. At her feet lies a shackle representing the overthrow of tyranny. This great statue, the world’s modern symbol of freedom, has stood the storms of world wars and the tests of time. She stands today, celebrating her continuing offer of freedom to all who come to her shores.
The path to true peace
As I stood before the Statue of Liberty, I thought about another statue of liberty. It was made of wood. It was not erected in friendship, but in anger and hatred. It is the cross.
On it our Savior was nailed. His crown was made of thorns. His robe was gambled for by the Roman soldiers. He died on that cross, but the story did not end there. The cross was only the beginning, for Christ rose from that death to triumph over all death and sin.
“Lady Liberty” is truly majestic. The thought of millions of people seeing her as they sailed into New York harbor was inspiring and motivating. I thought about the price so many paid to come to the freedom offered by our country.
And I thought about the price Jesus paid to offer eternal freedom by his sacrificial grace.
In these days of pandemic disease and nationwide protests, it is vital that we seek the help and hope Jesus provides. It is vital that we bring our needs and fears to him in faith, knowing that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
The old adage is still true: “No Christ, no peace. Know Christ, know peace.”
Will you seek and share the peace of Jesus today?