GENERALLY SPEAKING: Week of November 3
FRONT AND CENTER AT PARTY FOR LADY LIBERTY!
It was quite a party for the 125th anniversary of the Statue ofLiberty! First, there was the Naturalization Ceremony conducted bythe U.S. Immigration Services, in which 125 immigrants from 46nations took the oath of U.S. citizenship before Interior SecretaryKenneth SalazarBarack Obama.
Among them were 13 members of the U.S. Armed Services. TheNational Park Service Police Color Guard presented the Colors andthe newly minted American citizens joined for the Pledge ofAllegiance and stood tall and proud as the National Anthem wassung. As each new citizen came forward to accept his or hercertificate of citizenship, family members and guests applauded,cheered and waved tiny American flags.
Next up was the main commemoration program which started withthe march to the center stage by the New York City Armed ForcesColor Guard. Here, the West Point U.S. Military Academy Band playedLa Marseillaise, the French National Anthem and then accompaniedactress/singer Capathia Jenkins who sang the StarSpangled Banner. Actress Sigourney Weaver thenread Emma Lazarus‘ famous poem, The NewColossus.
The West Point Glee Club sang, America the Beautiful, and theBattle Hymn of the Republic. Noted singer and pianistMichael Feinstein emceed the event, sang C’estMagnifique and later led everyone singing, God BlessAmerica.
Salazar was the keynote speaker. Mayor MikeBloomberg presented a large replica of the Statue ofLiberty to the National Park Service, which will ultimately beplaced on display inside the statue’s museum. During his remarks,hizzoner mentioned his first visit to the statue was when he wasonly six years of age and his parents brought him down from Boston.He said he recalled climbing to the crown and being hoisted up tolook out of one of the windows.
George ClevelandGrover ClevelandGay Marshall and Anika NoniRose sung Gift of Light.
Along with the officials and distinguished guests, we were ableto join the 1-2-3 countdown as Lady Liberty went live around theworld via the Internet, thanks to the webcam cameras installed inthe torch at the top of the 151-foot statue. For some awesome shotsof the statue and New York harbor, go to www.ellisisland.org.
Just as the program concluded, the New York Veteran Corps ofArtillery fired a 21-gun cannon salute, with vessels in the harborblowing their horns and whistles, as fireboats shot multiple spraysinto the air. We also enjoyed a piece of the gigantic anniversarybirthday cake courtesy of the famous Cake Boss.
During last week’s column we mentioned the special significancethe 125th anniversary ceremony had to the Society of OldBrooklynites. The eighth line in the poem written by Emma Lazarusreads, The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, refers tothe fact that Brooklyn was an independent city, the third largestin 1886 and the twin city!
Since the society had its officers present at the dedicationceremonies, as a current society vice president, this writer washonored to be present for this historic anniversaryremembrance.
Security was especially tight. To get aboard the ferries goingto Liberty Island, you have to go through airport-type scanning andsearches. Once on the island, you could see explosive-smelling dogsleashed by National Park Service Rangers.
Later in the day, when we went to enter the base, museum andpedestal, we were subjected to another round of comprehensivesecurity checks. We even had to chuck an unopened Statue of Libertylabeled bottle of water in order to proceed further. Once insidethe base of the statue, we caught up with a Ranger tour beingconducted for George Cleveland and President Cleveland’s greatgrandkids.
A hearty handshake to Sandy VallasAlice FarkouhDavid Whitebook astreasurer, Susan TirottaGrace Zito
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