Frenchman Édouard de Laboulaye, was the first to imagine the concept of the Statue of Liberty. Laboulaye was a known political thinker and abolitionist who spent a large portion of his career pushing for democracy in France. After the abolition of slavery from the America’s Civil War, Laboulaye viewed America as the standard that countries should look up to in terms of freedom and democracy. Laboulaye loved America and was widely considered as an expert of the US Constitution; he was deeply inspired by President Abraham Lincoln and his moral resolve to end slavery and strongly praised America’s passage of the 13th Amendment, acting to abolish slavery.
In the summer of 1865 at his home in Versailles, Laboulaye organized a meeting of French abolitionists with the idea of creating a gift for America, to recognize the profound significance to their sacrifice to be a free nation and to liberate people of all race, color and creed from tyranny, oppression, and slavery in any form. French Sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, helped Laboulaye bring this idea to life creating various models and concepts that soon became the statue we know today. To structurally support the 150 ft. statue, Bartholdo and Laboulaye, sought help from the brilliant design and structural engineer Gustave Eiffel (The designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris). An early model created shows the statue holding the familiar torch in her right hand with the other hand holding broken chains, a symbol for the abolishment of slavery. The finished design however is of course Lady Liberty holding a tablet inscribed with the date July 4, 1776 to commemorate the Declaration of Independence. However, around her ankles the broken chains symbolizing freedom from slavery are still present, just not as visible unless one looks closely.
Since Lady Liberty was the first thing many immigrants saw as they entered America, many viewed the statue as a beacon of hope and symbol of human liberty and freedom. The poem “The New Colossus” was written by Jewish/American Poet Emma Lazarus, and was inscribed on the lower level of the 150 ft high American built pedestal built here in 1903.
“The New Colossus”
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 8th, 1886 by President Grover Cleveland. However, 19 years later on July 4th, 1903, the poem the “New Colossus” was inscribed and celebrated. At that celebration Emma Lazarus addressing the crowd spoke these famous words… “Until we are all free – none of us are free.”
The Cross of Liberty
In the history of crucifixion (public death on a cross), the death of Jesus of Nazareth stands out as the best-known example by far. Crucifixion in antiquity was actually a fairly common punishment, but there were no known physical remains from a crucifixion. Then, in 1968, archaeologist Vassilios Tzaferis excavated a Jerusalem tomb that contained the bones of a crucified man named Yehohanan. As Tzaferis reported, the discovery demonstrated the brutal reality of Roman crucifixion methods in a way that written accounts never had before.
The practice of crucifixion in antiquity was brought to life as never before when the heel bones of a young man named Yehohanan were found in a Jerusalem tomb, pierced by an iron nail. The discovery shed new light on Roman crucifixion methods and began to rewrite the ancient history of crucifixion.
The ancient Romans were not the only people to practice crucifixion. The history of crucifixion extends as far back as the Assyrians, Phoenicians and Persians of the first millennium B.C., as well as some Greeks throughout the Hellenized world. Even so, the most detailed and brutal accounts are of Roman crucifixion methods.
Initially the practice served only as a punishment and humiliation, usually for slaves, and did not necessarily result in death. As Roman crucifixion methods evolved, however, it became a means to execute foreign captives, rebels and fugitives. During times of war or rebellion, crucifixions could number in the hundreds or thousands. The convicted could sometimes hang in agony for days before expiring.
Despite the long history of ancient crucifixion, the discovery of Yehohanan’s remains offered scientists the first opportunity to study the process of crucifixion and Roman crucifixion methods up close. The bones were found in an ossuary, or bone box, inscribed several times with Yehohanan’s name (“Yehohanan son of Hagakol”). This ossuary, along with several others, had been placed in a tomb complex consisting of two chambers and 12 burial niches. During the Roman period (first century B.C.–first century A.D.) Jews who could afford this type of burial would lay out the dead bodies of loved ones on stone benches in rock-cut tombs. A year later, after the flesh had desiccated, the bones were collected into an ossuary and left in the tomb with those of other family members.
Examination of Yehohanan’s bones showed one of the many Roman crucifixion methods. Both of his feet had been nailed together to the cross with a wooden plaque while his legs were bent to one side. His arm bones revealed scratches where the nails had passed between. Both legs were badly fractured, most likely from a crushing blow meant to end his suffering and bring about a faster death. Yehohanan was probably a political dissident against Roman oppression. In death his bones have helped fill in gaps in the history of crucifixion.
This brief history of the crucifixion cross leads us today on this 4th of July weekend, to the acknowledgement and full engagement with the reality that Jesus Christ (Yeshua) the Messiah is our eternal freedom and liberator from the curse of death, hell, and the grave. The cross of Christ is the symbol of the freedom and liberation that Christians have for centuries looked to as the hope and reminder of our present faith and eternal promise. If you know the truth, and walk righteously in the truth – you are liberated and free.
Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.
Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
”Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”
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