Liberty Enlightening the World in 2021
“Liberty Enlightening the World,” commonly known as The Statue of Liberty, was dedicated to the United States by the people of France on October 28, 1886. On June 30, 2021, a 1,000 pound nine-foot bronze replica of the statue, made from the same plaster as the original, arrived at the Port of New York and New Jersey from the port of Le Havre, France. “Lady Liberty’s Little Sister” was gifted to the United States from the French government. French ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Philippe Étienne, called the new statue a symbol of “the enduring friendship between our two countries.”
Lady Liberty’s Little Sister was on display at Ellis Island during this year’s Independence Day weekend. The statue is now making its way to Washington D.C. where is will be installed outside of the French Ambassador’s home for Bastille Day, or Fête nationale, on July 14th. “We found it so important to have this meeting between the little and the big sisters, especially on the 4th of July, and then on the 14th of July — which is our national day, Bastille Day — it will be inaugurated again, but in Washington,” said Ambassador Étienne to media reporters.
Bastille Day is a French national holiday marking the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, a former state prison, on July 14, 1789. The event ushered in the French Revolution and in its aftermath, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was born that same year. Ideals and principles outlined in 18th century documents such as the Declaration or the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the United States Declaration of Independence, are democratic ideals that individuals of our societies must actively help bring to fruition for all people. Educating ourselves about one another supports the goals of liberty and democracy. In a speech given in 1894, entitled “Blessings of Liberty and Education,” Frederick Douglass said, “Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free.”
On June 23rd a virtual roundtable and Q&A, “The Statue of Liberty: the Renewal of a Symbol,” was organized by the Cultural Services of the Embassy of France in the United States. The panelists explored the history of the Statue of Liberty, its past and present interpretations, and the universal potential to reach a larger audience who may have differing images of America. Topics were introduced in the discussion to expand the understanding of liberty and the United States as a constant work in progress. “One of the things that this moment gives us is the opportunity to engage more people to grabble with this question and to really help people use this moment not to do what we traditionally do, which is to find simple answers to complex questions, but rather to help people grapple with ambiguity,” said Lonnie G. Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian, during the discussion. https://www.facebook.com/55529576314/videos/988988505245990
Citizen Diplomacy, such as programs like “Building Relationships Between Native American Communities and French Museums,” facilitated by Global Ties U.S. community based member Tulsa Global Alliance, is an essential tool for enagement and for cultivating understanding of one another to ensure that we are doing our best in this moment. It can be an instrument that we use today and generations after us can also use it to do any unfinished work needed to make our world better so that principles, such as those that Libertas embodies, are able to become a reality. In a statement made to media outlets, Ambassador Étienne said, “It’s more important than ever to underline how our democracies need to work together, with our common values, including everything which is symbolized by these statues — freedom, but also equal opportunities for all our citizens.”