My mom, grandmother and grandfather were among the more than 12 million immigrants who were greeted by the majestic gift from France as they entered the country over a span of 60 years.
After raising three children of her own, my mom went to community college and, when she got her degree, wanted to be photographed at Liberty State Park — the three of us around her and the statue in the background. Alight my shores, the statue seemed to say, and you will create stories such as these.
Come July 4th, visitors will again be able to climb the 168 steps to the Statue of Liberty’s crown.
The crown, closed since 9/11, will be reopened that day, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today.
“On July 4, we are giving America a special gift,” Salazar said at a news conference on nearby Ellis Island.
The base, pedestal and lower observation deck have been reopened since the attacks, but this is an important symbolic gesture. Although America must continue healing from the horrific trauma, we also need to boldly tell the world we will not blink in the face of so much threat.
A lottery will determine the 30 visitors an hour who can climb the narrow, spiral staircase to the crown each hour. A National Park Service ranger will shepherd them in groups of 10.
In two years, the crown will be closed again for further renovation, federal authorities said.
Salazar also announced that $25 million in stimulus funding will be used for improvements at Ellis Island including stabilizing a 1908 building and repairing the seawall.
“These projects are an investment in America’s future that will create jobs, stimulate the economies of local communities, and get our country moving again,” Salazar said in a previous news release.
They also will allow us, the children of immigrants, and many of the aging immigrants themselves, to hold onto solid symbols of our respective legacies.