A visit with Lady Liberty
David Denham, park ranger at Liberty Island National Park, is, if there ever was, a man of knowledge. Sporting a teal tie, beige hat, and a gold park ranger badge, Denham is a factual mastermind when it comes to the Statue of Liberty. When I arrived on the ferry, Denham greeted me with a smile and we were off on our whirlwind tour. It was my first time ever visiting “Lady Liberty” — the closest I had ever come before was seeing it from the Staten Island ferry — but now I was right next to it, walking closer and closer to it alongside Park Ranger Denham.
One of the most interesting things that I learned is that the Statue of Liberty is filled with symbols. Every part of the statue has a meaning - its moving foot, its crown’s seven spikes, and even the torch itself. The statue’s foot, which appears to be moving, symbolizes the movement and progress of the country; the seven spikes of the crown represent the seven seas and continents, and the torch stands for enlightenment.
Denham began from the beginning of the Statue’s history, telling a story of how the statue came to be. One of the most interesting parts of this story involves Gustave Eiffel, who engineered the Statue. Eiffel, hmm, sound familiar? Yep, Gustave Eiffel later became famous for the Eiffel Tower. When he tried to find a way to support the copper lady, Eiffel had the idea to fill the inside with a structure that is practically a model of the famous Parisian tower. It perfectly held up the Statue.
We continued to walk beside the statue until we got to the perfect spot, in which we where centered in front of the statue. Before us was the green lady, her gazing eyes looked into the distance, and we observed her.
On a windy day the island was still crowded, but even that powerful wind didn’t budge the statue one bit. Still, Denham knows that there’s more to the strong metal structure inside the statue. For him, the statue is filled with history as well.
Denham’s admiration and respect was evident. A brilliant park ranger who knows everything there is to know about one of the world’s greatest landmarks, Denham also knows that it’s much more than a simple tourist attraction.
With awe in his voice, Denham spoke with admiration.
“She’s a beauty,” he said.
Check out my interviews with Ellis Island Park Ranger Katharine Crane and the Superintendent of Ellis Island and Liberty Island (which includes the Statue of Liberty), David Luchsinger!
Photo: Kid Reporter Fred Hechinger with Park Ranger David Denham in front of the Statue of Liberty. (Photo: Dante A. Ciampaglia)