When people hear “Miss America”, most think of the yearly beauty pageant where women from around the country get judged on what color their dress is, what their hair looks like, and of course by the ever-daunting final question. Even though these women also do contribute to society by helping the less fortunate, none of them is the true “Miss America”. The true Miss America is not a 20 year old from Alabama or a 17 year old from Nebraska; she is a 127 year old French women who is 305 feet tall. Some call her Lady Liberty, others the Statue of Liberty, and history knows her as Liberty Enlightening the World. Lady Liberty has long since been the figure of American freedom. She is the first thing immigrants used to see when arriving in Ellis Island, and she is still one of the most popular monuments visited today.
The statue of liberty was given to The United States of America in 1886 by France as a gift of friendship. It was supposed to celebrate the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in 1876, but was not completed until 10 years later. France was responsible for the production of the statue itself, and America built the pedestal on which she stands. French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, started the creation of the statue in 1876. However, funding issues as well as structural issues caused the production to go rather slowly. Finally, in 1885, the completed statue was taken apart into 350 pieces and shipped from France to America. The following year, the statue was re-assembled and was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
As a whole, the Statue of Liberty represents freedom, liberty and justice: the ideals of America. Similarly, almost every individual part of the statue holds its own significance and meaning. The Statue of Liberty is seen holding a tablet with the date of the Declaration of Independence, so as to represent the celebration of the Declaration’s centennial and show the justice for which she stands. She is also holding a torch to show hope and to act as a light in the darkness (both literally and metaphorically). On her head is a crown with seven points to represent the seven oceans and seven continents of the world; showing that her liberty is universal. Lady Liberty is modeled after the Roman goddess Libertas, the goddess of freedom, which is why she is dressed in a long gown. Even her feet show symbolism of liberty. She is standing on broken shackles with her right foot raised, which is meant to represent moving away from oppression and slavery. From head to toe, Lady Liberty truly is the representation of American ideals.
Throughout history, Lady Liberty has played many different roles. She has been a lighthouse, the welcoming face of a new country, a national monument, an actress, and countless other things. In the early 1800s and early 1900s, Lady Liberty’s torch lit the way for boats docking in New York, and although she no longer acts as a lighthouse, her torch is still “lit” nightly. Also during this time period, over 9 million immigrants came to America, and Lady Liberty was the first thing they saw, welcoming them to their new home. The Statue of Liberty is a popular place for both tourists and Americans to visit, as well as a character frequently seen in movies, paintings, and books. She has appearances in the movies, “Planet of the Apes”, “Independence Day”, and “The Day After Tomorrow”. She is also seen in the comic book “Miss America”, the poem, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, and Andy Warhol’s Pop Art painting, “The Statue of Liberty”. The frequent appearances of the Statue of Liberty throughout America’s history shows just how influential she is to American culture.
The Statue of Liberty is the regal representation of what America strives to be. She is a remembrance of the founding of America and the ideals of the time, and even though she was created 100 years after the beginning of America, she perfectly en capsules all of the people, events, and significance of the country’s foundation. Her history of friendship, freedom, justice, and liberty make her the true Miss America.