Lady Liberty Is Yearning To Breathe Free

By Anthony Weiner

Published July 24, 2008, issue of August 01, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Between 1892 and 1954, thousands and thousands of Jews escaping religious persecution came into the United States through Ellis Island. The tired, poor, huddled masses were greeted by the Statue of Liberty, a beacon of light and hope, a symbol of the future that lay ahead. Tall and proud, she welcomed Jewish immigrants to their new home.

Since then, Lady Liberty has become the most prominent symbol of freedom in the United States. But today, Lady Liberty is not free.

Lady Liberty’s crown and the observation deck it houses have been closed for the past seven years. It’s well past time we cut her chains.

After the September 11 terrorist attacks, national parks, monuments and memorials throughout the country closed. Almost immediately thereafter, with some changes to security, every single one reopened, except for the Statue of Liberty. While Lady Liberty’s base and pedestal were reopened in August 2004, her crown still remains closed.

While it may not be the most pressing issue facing the country in the aftermath of the attacks, it is not a frivolous one — Lady Liberty is symbolically important to national morale.I remember when my parents took me to the Statue of Liberty as a child. That iconic experience of climbing Lady Liberty’s narrow staircase is one I will never forget, and it pains me that the youngest generation of Americans has been denied this experience.

The National Parks Service has deemed the narrow staircase leading up to Lady Liberty’s crown unsafe. The problem is, the parks service never tried to make the staircase safe.

That’s why in 2005 I introduced the Save the Statue of Liberty Act, which required the National Parks Service to reopen her crown. Congress has allocated more than enough funding to the parks service. What is lacking is something Congress cannot allocate to the parks service: the imagination, courage and leadership to overcome these security challenges.

That is, until now. Due to Congressional pressure, the National Parks Service finally agreed to investigate options to secure Lady Liberty’s crown and allow public access. The plans are currently underway.

While no place is completely safe, we can make Lady Liberty’s crown as safe as possible. The fact that the National Parks Service has ignored this crucial task for seven years is an embarrassment.

Whether visitors are asked to sign a waiver, check their bags or required to enroll online in advance, Congress is willing and eager to be flexible. We understand changes must be made and we are anxious to see the crown reopened.

Hopefully this past July 4 will be the last Independence Day on which the Statue of Liberty does not stand in all its former glory.

There are 162 steps up to Lady Liberty’s crown, and the experience of climbing them is a thrilling one. When you finally make it up there, you can see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

Rep. Anthony Weiner is a Democrat from New York.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.