Sunday, July 5, 2009

What Better Time to Make That Climb?

For the first time since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, visitors to the Statue of Liberty in New York were permitted to go all the way to Lady Liberty's crown on Saturday.

Surely, there was no better time to do that than on Independence Day, although it was apparently quite warm for those who were allowed to scale those lofty heights. And there were, apparently, a few obstacles to overcome along the way.

"For the privilege of being the first people in nearly eight years to climb the 354 steps to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, 30 visitors on the sun–kissed morning of July 4 had to first endure a bit of bureaucracy: red tape and stiff security," write Liz Robbins and Colin Moynihan of the New York Times.

"No wonder by the time these huddled masses reached the top of the hot, sticky and narrow staircase, they were indeed yearning to breathe free."

The New York Daily News published the winning entries in its Fourth of July essay contest, and reading them brings back memories of the thoughts that went through my head when, as a child, I visited the Statue of Liberty with my parents and my younger brother.

I don't remember if we climbed to the crown that day, but we probably didn't. I do remember standing at the statue's base and staring up into the sky to catch a glimpse of the crown and the torch. And I remember purchasing a souvenir miniature Statue of Liberty that somehow got misplaced over the years.

But I've never lost my faith in freedom and independence.

I am grateful for the sacrifices that were made by the soldiers who fought and died to keep America free. When I was a child, they fought in a distant land called Vietnam and were not treated well when they returned, even though they did not choose where they were sent. Since then, they have fought and died in many places to preserve the rights that are all too often taken for granted.

We owe them a debt we can never repay.

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