The Statue of Liberty is one of the greatest reminders we have of our freedom, which our military veterans have fought tirelessly to protect.
She has become an icon to those desiring freedom, a national treasure for a nation to remember as one of the most recognized figures in al the world. Each year, millions of people make the journey to see her and experience the history of her nation. Those that cherish her ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness marvel at her grandeur and size. She has become, for the United States and the rest of the world, a symbol of freedom, inspiration and hope.
She is the Statue of Liberty.
Lady Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States to celebrate the centennial of our nation’s freedom. It was designed by staunch American supporter and French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was finished and dedicated by President Grover Cleveland on October 28, 1886. At the base of her marble foundation is a plaque that reads,
“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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It is that very lamp that draws my attention. Although her torch has undergone multiple refurbishments and eventually a replacement, the very essence of the “Light of Liberty” continues to shine in New York Harbor and in our hearts, especially in the hearts of our veterans, those men and women who have endured the darkest of nights, the worst of storms and the greatest of sacrifices to ensure that freedom’s light will never go out. It is a light that has been tried and tested over the short history of our great country and will continue to be attacked by those that desire to snuff out this beacon of help and hope.
From the voice of the veteran, we hear “Not on my watch! This light will not be dampened, dimmed or diminished. It will not be hidden or hoarded by tyrants wanting its power, nor will it be cheapened because of the attitude of entitlement and selfishness!” This light may flicker but it will not fade. It continues to pierce the darkness of deceit to bring through the night a morning of reassurance and restoration.
Yet, as great as this torch of Lady Liberty is, there is a light that will never be extinguished and will never lose its power to permeate, protect and prevail against the powers and principalities of the land and air.
In John 1:1-5, we see the greatest light known to all mankind as John pens these words: “4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Just as Lady Liberty lights New York Harbor with her torch, the Lord’s light illuminates all our lives to provide for us a hope for our future.
Wow! What an incredible light. Just as the plaque calls for the “huddled masses,” the proclamation from our spiritual light is “Come to me, all you who are burdened and heavy-hearted, and I will give you rest!” (Matthew 11:28). I have been honored to serve in the US Army for 26 years and I am even more proud to have served as a warrior of the light for almost 47 years. Both in the service of the country that I love and the King of Kings who loved me first, I see the torch and the light burning bright. As one nation under God, we will continue to be that beacon of help, healing and hope as long as there is breath in every veteran that stands to protect it.
To all our veterans past and present, “Stand watch and press on until we are fully relieved of our duty from the ultimate Commander in Chief of all creation!”
Dr. Daniel Middlebrooks is the Senior Chaplain of First Call Church and the CEO/President of Chaplaincy Care, Inc.