- U.S. Senator Robert Menendez
LIBERTY ISLAND – On the day marking our nation’s 237 years of independence, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and many others to reopen the Statue of Liberty after being closed for more than eight months after Superstorm Sandy.
The full text of Senator Menendez’s address follows:
It’s an honor to be here today with Secretary of the Interior Jewell on the Fourth of July, Independence Day, to re-open Liberty Island after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.
It’s fitting that we’re here having just the other day passed legislation that will give 11 million immigrants a pathway to citizenship so they too can enjoy the liberty that is represented on this hallowed ground.
In 2007, when we failed in our last attempt at immigration reform, I quoted the last phrase of Emma Lazarus's poem emblazoned on the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I said then, “That lamp is somewhat dimmer, but it will shine again...
Today, eight months after the water rose, after the docks were ruined, the 12-acre egg-shaped island three-quarters submerged – after a 14-foot storm surge swept across this island destroying our most cherished symbol – today, Lady Liberty shines again.
During Sandy, the island’s docks were torn to splinters, but they are now ready again for the almost 4 million people who come here every year to understand what all of us feel, every day, as Americans – that breath of freedom and opportunity that Lady Liberty – standing there, torch in hand – represents.
The statue came through unscathed from Sandy, unbowed like the rest of the East Coast and the rest of New Jersey.
We said then we would do what had to be done to rebuild, to help everyone, including the 171 people who worked on this island, get back to work – and we have.
But of all the damage we suffered in Sandy – and believe me, I saw some incredible damage in my state, from Hoboken all the way down to the Jersey Shore – none was more of a direct hit on what we stand for as a people and a nation than the damage done here.
Sandy may have struck Liberty Island, but not what it will always represent – everything that’s at the heart of our democratic values, and the words written on the inside of the Statue’s pedestal:
“Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch...”
Today, we reopen Liberty Island, and there she stands as proud as ever.
This is a great day for all of us and it speaks to our determination and perseverance in the face of adversity. It proves nothing can beat us down – that we will always come back from whatever adversity comes our way.
After the attacks on September 11th, 2001, I led an effort to liberate Lady Liberty from the shackles that had been placed on her and closed her crown. Today, the entire world knows neither terrorists nor nature can ultimately shackle Liberty.
It’s in America’s DNA to meet every challenge, and even in adversity to remain a beacon of freedom, inclusiveness, and opportunity.
Welcome back to Liberty Island.
PHOTO ATTACHED: Sen. Menendez speaking at the reopening of the Statue of Liberty today.