In Featured Article, News & Media

Experience America’s historic commitment to strength in the face of adversity

On a windy weekday morning, standing aboard the “Miss New York,” the combination of sea spray, the smell of the surrounding ocean, and the ship’s decks, full of passengers, made it easy to imagine the journeys of immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. Everyone onboard, speaking in a buzz of languages and dialects, came from all over to witness the symbol of freedom, immigration, and America herself: Lady Liberty.

As interns at the 9/11 Tribute Museum, we took a tour of Liberty and Ellis Islands for an up-close and personal glimpse of two famous lower Manhattan landmarks. Our trip to Liberty and Ellis Island sparked feelings of hope and acceptance as much in the present as it surely did in the past. As two young women living in New York City for the first time, we had high expectations for the city that promises dreams-come-true to those who are willing to work for them.

Our trip to Liberty and Ellis Island sparked feelings of hope and acceptance as much in the present as it surely did in the past

In this way, we were tied to all of those who came before us, immigrants sailing toward their own hopes and dreams who were willing to do almost anything to make them into a reality. Though our circumstances couldn’t be more different, our hearts were the same; intimidated and optimistic, eagerly approaching this towering symbol of independence and hoping she would open her copper arms into a welcoming embrace.

As the ship sailed closer to Liberty Island, everyone onboard scrambled for cameras and phones, anything that could capture this first look at an American icon. Despite national tragedies like the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Statue of Liberty, poised with her torch of enlightenment, serves as a consistent reminder of unity, moving forward, and contributing to a stronger society.

the Statue of Liberty, poised with her torch of enlightenment, serves as a consistent reminder of unity, moving forward, and contributing to a stronger society

Upon arriving to Liberty Island, we could register for a walking tour or embark on a self-guided exploration of the perimeter of the island through free audio devices available in a variety of languages. We opted to explore the island on our own, following landmark signs that detailed Lady Liberty’s design, construction, or cultural significance.

The brand new Statue of Liberty Museum just opened earlier this month and is also free for ticket-holders. It features a glass-encased walkthrough exhibit dedicated to Lady Liberty in all aspects, from her initial designs to her transportation from France to New York. Further along in the exhibit are interactive touchscreens where we explored the various renditions of Lady Liberty in pop culture and advertisements over the years. Some of these depictions were shown in political cartoons that included a variation of her image alongside commentary on the urban housing crisis as well as comic book covers, which used her as a symbol for patriotic justice.

The museum also features a short film on massive, wrap-around displays, allowing us to lose ourselves in the narrative of the stunning monument standing just outside. The ten-minute feature was divided into three acts, first explaining the architect’s history and designs for the monument, how the statue was built and transported to America, and finally the statue’s meaning and symbolism in American culture.

We exited the museum through the back doors and were greeted with an impressive rooftop view of the Manhattan skyline where the rebuilding of the World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan unfolded across the Hudson. This view combines the past with the future, allowing us to stand next to America’s oldest symbol of freedom while looking off at the physical embodiment of her ability to grow from tragedy.

This Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Tribute Museum package, which includes a glimpse of all three locations, offers an in-depth personal experience of Lower Manhattan while reaffirming what it means to move forward as citizens of a more unified America. The combination of experiencing the Statue of Liberty and her museum with the 9/11 Tribute Museum shows that by reflecting on and remembering our nation’s history, we can continue to grow in compassion.

  • Emily Fitzgerald
    Emily Fitzgerald Intern

    Emily Fitzgerald is currently earning her master’s degree in digital media at Duquesne University. She spends her limited free time buying too many vinyl records and searching for the perfect doughnut in whatever new city she’s exploring. Her goal is to work as an Art Director for a lifestyle magazine to help promote the growth and position of marginalized voices in society by creating outlets that are more inclusive of these significant perspectives.

  • Salena Moran
    Salena Moran Intern

    Salena Moran is a recent graduate of Duquesne University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in public relations and psychology. She strives to make meaningful and transparent connections with other people through PR, particularly aspiring to ensure children’s well-being in a media-driven society. Salena enjoys any activity that involves makeup, iced coffee, anything Frank Sinatra, theater, tennis, and her dog, Phoebe.

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