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Today, Americans are celebrating the nation's Independence Day. On July fourth,
seventeen seventy-six, colonial leaders approved the final Declaration of
Independence for the United States. And
this year, the city of New York will also celebrate the opening of part of an
important symbol of America that has been closed to the public for the past
The Statue of Liberty has stood in New York harbor for more than one hundred
years. It was a gift from the people of France in eighteen eighty-four. Its
full name is "Liberty Enlightening the World".
The Statue of Liberty is forty-six meters tall from its base. It is made mostly
of copper. Throughout history, images of liberty have been represented as a
woman. The statue is sometimes called "Lady Liberty."
The Statue of Liberty's face was created to look like the sculptor's mother.
Her right arm holds a torch with a flame high in the air. Her left arm holds a
tablet with the date of the Declaration of Independence -- July fourth,
seventeen seventy-six. On her head she wears a crown of seven points. Each is
meant to represent the light of freedom as it shines on the seven seas and
seven continents of the world. Twenty-five windows in the crown represent
gemstones found on Earth. A chain that represents oppression lies broken at her
In nineteen oh three, a bronze plaque was placed on the inner wall of the
statue's support structure or pedestal. On it are words from the poem "The
New Colossus" written by Emma Lazarus in eighteen eighty-three. The plaque
represents the statue's message of hope for people seeking freedom. These are
some of its best known words:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The United States and France have been friends and allies since the time of the
American Revolution. France helped the American colonial armies defeat the
British. The war officially ended in seventeen eighty-three. A few years later,
the French rebelled against their king.
A French historian and political leader, Edouard-Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye,
had the idea for the statue. In eighteen sixty-five, he suggested that the
French and the Americans build a monument together to celebrate freedom.
The Statue of Liberty became
a symbol of hope for immigrants coming to the United States by ship from
Europe. More than twelve million people passed the statue between eighteen
ninety-two and nineteen fifty-four on their way to the immigration center on
nearby Ellis Island.
More than forty percent of Americans have an ancestor who passed through Ellis
Island. Through the years, millions of people continued to visit the Statue of
Liberty. A trip to New York City did not seem complete without it.
Still, the statue was old and becoming dangerous for visitors. In nineteen
eighty-two, President Ronald Reagan asked businessman Lee Iacocca to lead a
campaign to repair it. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation raised
about one hundred million dollars in private money to do the work. The repairs
included replacing the torch and covering it with twenty-four carat gold. On
July fourth, nineteen eighty-six, New York City celebrated a restored and
re-opened Statue of Liberty.
Officials closed the Statue of Liberty following the terrorist attacks in New
York on September eleventh, two thousand one. It remained closed until August,
two thousand four. When it re-opened, visitors could only go onto the statue's
pedestal. But the Statue continued to attract visitors-more than three million
This year, on July fourth, visitors once again will be able to climb inside the
statue all the way to the top. It is not an easy thing to do. More than three
hundred fifty steps lead to Lady Liberty's crown. The National Park Service
says it will limit the number of climbers to about two hundred a day. No more
than ten people will be able to go up at one time. At that rate, officials
estimate that more than one hundred thousand people will be able to climb to
the top each year.
But if you want to visit the newly opened Statue of Liberty, you must do it
within the next two years. That is because the National Park Service plans to
close it again for more repairs. Officials say the improvements could take as
long as two years. But they say the work will make it possible to safely double
the number of visitors permitted inside.
Translated by Buasawan Simmala and Vannasone Keodara