“Liberation,” a two ton 15foot bronze statue depicting an American soldier as a symbol of Liberty and Freedom carrying a survivor of a concentration camp, is the work of Polish born sculptor Natan Rapport. It will be erected and dedicated at Liberty State Park in Jersey City on May 30, 1985, the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II.
This historic landmark will be erected by private funds. The Committee is made up of over 100 people as varied as the population itself.
There are representatives from veterans groups, religious leaders, Boy Scouts, people from labor, the arts, industry, education and different ethnic groups. Honorary chairmen of the committee are Governor Thomas Kean and U.S. Senators Bill Bradley and Frank Lautenberg, who are active in bringing this project to reality.
The fundraising has been conducted on a grassroots level. In fact, the commitment of Luna Kaufman of Watchung and David Kotok of Vineland, cochairmen, and treasurer Martin Barber of Livingston was such, that they personally signed a financial note in order to get the project underway.
“Private individuals, organizations and businesses have been extremely helpful in bringing this project to fruition. They have responded very generously, with time, effort and materials,” said David Kotok, cochairman.
The response has been tremendous. Besides the monetary support from a great number of people, major donations in kind are pouring in. The construction, the three foot granite base, the equipment, as well as the architect’s services, major expenses of the site preparation, were donated, bringing the cost down dramatically.
The school children embarked on a campaign selling buttons to assist in the $1.2 million fundraising campaign.
Meanwhile, the ground preparation is complete and spring will bring the actual erection of the Statue. Governor Thomas Kean, in announcing the formation of the committee in May 1983, described the site this way: ‘‘Viewers looking at the monument will see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the background, symbols of liberty and of America’s European heritage, framing this tribute to the Americans who liberated Europe almost 40 years ago.” The Statue of Liberty appears to be so close to this spot that you can almost touch it.
“This moving legacy (the monument) will embed American values in bronze to inspire future generations with the beauty of American spirit and brotherhood,” said Luna Kaufman of Watchung, committee cochairman. “It is heartwarming to have such overwhelming support from a wide range of the people. It’s the united effort that will bring this monument to reality.”
It is the hope of the committee that this monument will serve as a gathering site for groups espousing these values. The Boy Scout’s Diamond Camporal is the first such event, scheduled for May 31, 1985, the day after the dedication of the Liberation Monument.
Those wishing to contribute to the committee or to engage in the sale of buttons are asked to contact the committee at: Liberty Park Monument Committee, 354 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston, New Jersey 07039 or call (201) 9949400.
So over the years, is the story of America, the story of the struggle for Liberty? So is our story, the story of Liberty’s spirit, triumphing over evil, bringing light where there is darkness, so is the monument a fitting partner to the lady who lifts her lamp over our safe harbor.
And so must we also remember today that this celebration is not an end, but another next step. Today we break ground for a monument yet to be built; and today we should remember the liberation is itself a first step. Liberation may be the agent of liberty; it is not, it is never, liberty herself.
Liberty is strongest in the free and responsible exercise of our freedoms. In our respect for the freedom of others. In our resolve to uphold each other’s freedom and rights.
As we look back over the years of America’s spirit, let us renew that spirit today, this is 1985. Let us make it the year of America’s true Spirit: The spirit of this statue, lifting a victim in his strong arms. The spirit of the lady with the lamp, lifting her beacon of hope over the water. The spirit of strength and compassion, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
Sikh Sangat’s participation in this noble project will go a long way in expressing our solidarity with America’s commitment to the cause of liberty and with its mission to help the Oppressed and the suffering.