Statue of Liberty Dedication Day
annually on October 28th
Statue of Liberty Dedication Day celebrates the Statue of Liberty, and commemorates the day on which it was dedicated in 1886. The idea for the statue was proposed by French historian Edouard de Laboulaye in 1865. France decided to build and give the statue to the United States to commemorate the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the alliance between the two countries during the Revolutionary War, and the friendship that continued afterwards. An agreement was made that the statue would be paid for by the people of France, and the pedestal on which it would stand would be paid for by Americans. The project was delayed because of lack of funds from both countries, especially the United States, but the money was eventually raised. French artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi designed the statue, and its support system was engineered by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel—who shortly afterwards became famous for his work on the Eiffel Tower.
In June 1885 the statue arrived in New York City in 214 packing crates, and was reconstructed on Bedloe's Island—which was renamed Liberty Island in 1956. On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated. A red barge transported to the island those who wanted to see the event. President Grover Cleveland officiated, and a speech was given by Ferdinand de Lesseps, who was a French diplomat, and head of the Franco-American Union, a group that had been created in 1875 to facilitate the completion of the project. There was music and a gun salvo, and Bartholdi, the mastermind of the statue, was perched in the statue's torch, and pulled a rope that removed the French flag from in front of Lady Liberty's face, revealing it to the crowd. That evening the torch was lit for the first time.
The statue stands 151 feet tall, and is made of a copper sheeting covering an iron framework. Its pedestal is 154 feet in height, and is made of granite. Besides holding a torch, Lady Liberty—who was based off of Libertas, the Greek god of freedom—holds a tablet in which the date July 4, 1776, is inscribed. The statue became an important symbol for immigrants, especially after nearby Ellis Island began processing them in 1892. It was the first thing that they saw while entering New York Harbor, and many wrote home to their relatives in their home countries about it. Emma Lazarus' poem, "The New Colossus", was eventually added to the pedestal, further cementing the relationship between immigrants and the statue. It became a U.S. National Monument in 1924, and the National Park Service now oversees the whole island. Today the statue stands as a universal symbol of freedom and liberty.
How to Observe
The best way to celebrate the day, is to visit the Statue of Liberty, or plan a trip to do so. A boat can be taken to Liberty Island, and the pedestal and crown of the statue can be explored. Find out more at the National Park Service's website.