What does the Statue of Liberty mean?

Lady Liberty stands tall in New York harbor. She once beckoned immigrants to the United States. She also serves as an enduring symbol of friendship between two nations.


Consider the statue’s many symbolic meanings to Americans.

It came to these shores as a gift from France in 1886. France helped the Colonies win their independence from Great Britain during the American Revolution. Thus, our nations’ alliance was formed. The French gave the statue to the then-still-new nation as an expression of that friendship.

The poetic verse etched into Lady Liberty’s base, written by Emma Lazarus, welcomes those “poor huddled masses” to these shores. It beckons immigrants to America, welcomes them, tells them that this is the land of opportunity. To that end, it bears special meaning for me, as my own grandparents entered the United States from Greece and Turkey at the turn of the 20th century at Ellis Island, which is just a few hundred yards from where the Statue of Liberty stands tall in the harbor.

The Statue of Liberty tells the world about our nation’s belief in freedom and its willingness to fight for it, as we have done — with French soldiers fighting at our side in World Wars I and II.

PBS noted this about the film: “For more than 100 years, the Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of hope and refuge for generations of immigrants. In this lyrical, compelling and provocative portrait of the statue, Ken Burns explores both the history of America’s premier symbol and the meaning of liberty itself. Featuring rare archival photographs, paintings and drawings, readings from actual diaries, letters and newspapers of the day, the fascinating story of this universally admired monument is told.”

Ken Burns tells the story through his own prism. The documentary will walk us through the statue’s construction, its delivery to this nation, its history since arriving here and all the contemporary issues that add emphasis to what the statue means.

The broadcast airs tonight at 7 on KACV-TV.

Take a look and understand how a statue can bind nations and a people.


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