Charitable Gift Giving

We surf the Web to find good products that help out a great cause.

Charitable Gift Giving header image 2

Statue of Liberty 2011 Christmas Ornament

December 4th, 2011 · No Comments · Arts

Statue of Liberty Ornament

October 28th of this year marked the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. In the last year we’ve seen demonstrations by the Tea Party, and on the other side of the political spectrum we’ve seen demonstrations by Occupy Movement. As much as you might agree or disagree with these movements, one thing is for sure–we can be thankful we live in a country where people are free to speak their mind.

When I was in China in 1999, my sister and I were in Tienanmen Square in Beijing visiting as tourists. We saw a small group of about 10 old Chinese women gather together. One of the women started to take out what appeared to be a banner of some kind, probably related to the falun gong movement. Literally within 20 seconds, a nondescript bus drove up to them. A few policeman swept them up quietly and within the minute, all of them were gone. The people in the square hardly took notice, they just went about their daily business. So many years later, things haven’t changed much over there.

We take it for granted, but this is how governments have conducted themselves for thousands of years. In the late 1800’s, the gift of the statue to the US was their way of telling us–never forget how special the gift of liberty is.

One very interesting fact about the Statue of Liberty is that it almost never happened. While the people of France funded the building of the statue, it was agreed that the funding and building of the pedestal fell on the people of the United States. Problem is, in the midst of an economic crisis in the decade of the 1870s, it became difficult to justify the project. The New York Times said in an editorial on September 29, 1876, that “no true patriot can countenance any such expenditures for bronze females in the present state of our finances.” In 1884, governor of New York Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill that would have provided $50,000 for the project (about $1 million in today’s money). When the US Congress the next year tried to pass a bill to provide $100,000 to the project (about $2.3 million today), the bill was defeated.

It was Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of The New York World, who started a drive to collect $100,000. New Yorkers started donating money, most of it in amounts under a dollar. Pulitzer published the names and stories of donors in his paper. By August 1885, 120,000 donors had contributed $102,000.

In many ways it’s the same today. In 1982, as the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty was approaching, the statue had fallen under disrepair. I still remember driving by in New Jersey and seeing the statue discolored and rusty.

The National Park Service and Congress just couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be able to fund any meaningful restoration with tax dollars. In May 1982, President Reagan asked Chrysler chairman Lee Iococca to head a private sector effort to raise money. The result was what we call the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which completely restored the Statue by her 100th birthday in 1986, and continues its important work to this day, both with the Statue of Liberty and with Ellis Island. If you haven’t visited either yet, make sure you do so the next time you’re in the New York / New Jersey area.

The Foundation continues to rely on private donations to this day. By buying the beautiful Christmas ornament you see pictured above or any number of other great gifts sold by the Foundation, in the spirit of those New Yorkers 125 years ago who gave the few cents and dollars at a time, you too can keep the Statue open and new as a fresh reminder of this country’s freedom.


No Comments so far ↓

There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment