When I go on tours, I don’t usually listen to the overhead voice telling me about whatever sight I’m seeing. I tend to zone out, getting rid of all the outside voices and sounds so I can take it in myself. It's not that I’m not interested in learning, I just don’t have the attention span to listen to someone talking for an hour. Especially when I have something unique and different in front of me to observe and commit to memory.
This time around, it was the one and only Statue of Liberty. As the ferry approached Liberty Island, I looked back and forth, from the New York City Skyline to a towering green, copper woman.
A powerful, independent and reassuring woman.
“The statue was a symbol of hope for immigrants, hope for a new life,” the narrated voice said. This small sentence managed to get through my consciousness and to my brain. This never usually happened to me, yet it immediately sent my brain into action.
Even though I’ve heard this fact many times by now, hearing it again managed to make me emotional for a moment. It made me think about how numerous immigrants had looked upon the statue with awe and hope as they entered a new and unfamiliar country. Seeing the statue tower over me as we approached put into perspective the historical meaning it held.
This thought never left my head as we stepped off the ferry and started walking around the statue. There was some construction being done at the base, but that didn’t hinder the statue’s beauty in the slightest. The sun made her robes a mint green color and emphasized her golden torch. She looked a bit like a teacher, with her flowing robes and tablet in her arms.
It was surreal being there. Looking back at the pictures not even a week later, it seems impossible that I was really there, in the presence of an icon of sorts.
She was so much more than a statue; she was what fueled immigrants to pursue their dreams after leaving the familiarity of their homes. The statue was a symbol of ability, strength and persistence. She was there to reassure people that everything would be okay. Yes, there were inevitably going to be obstacles, but I think she believed in everyone who had the courage to try.
While the Statue of Liberty may look miniscule in comparison to all the new, modern and towering skyscrapers in the city and fade away in the distance, she is no less important or impressive than the rest of them.
Isabella Vesperini (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and minoring in Italian.