Liberty Weekend A Reaffirmation Of Ideals For Many With PM-Liberty Rdp, Bjt
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Americans heading home after four days of exuberant devotions to the refurbished Statue of Liberty say they are leaving with a renewed feeling of pride and a sense of the value of freedom.
From the entry of the first tall ship into New York Harbor to the final strains of ″This Land Is Your Land″ during Sunday night’s closing ceremonies, the nation watched the celebration and contemplated the themes Liberty Weekend evoked: immigration, opportunity, patriotism.
″It renewed the whole spirit of what the Statue of Liberty stands for,″ said Marnie Poms, 45, of Chicago. ″It reinforced the great heroes of liberty.″
Some criticized what they called the commercialism of the events, but many out-of-towners said they enjoyed the spectacle and found New York area residents friendly.
″It’s been tremendous on an entertainment level,″ said 28-year-old Sandy Nixon of San Antonio, Texas. ″It also makes you feel proud of your country.″
″It’s good to be a part of it,″ said Bob Mickus, 21, of Boulder, Colo., waiting for a flight home Sunday night at a crowded Newark International Airport.
″I was impressed by all the different types of people in this country. Although it’s one country, it seems like more,″ said Mickus, a first- generation American of Lithuanian extraction.
″It was kind of good to see everybody patriotic,″ added Ken Lambrecht, his 21-year-old friend from the University of Colorado whose parents emigrated from West Germany.
Also boarding a flight was Joe Mobley, a tomato farmer from Tampa, Fla., who came with his wife and 14-year-old daughter. He said they waited in line for three hours Sunday to climb the Statue of Liberty.
″It’s really important to see it,″ he said. ″Now they say it’s going to last for many years. I think that’s really important.″
Overall, he said, ″the weekend expressed the feeling of liberty, of freedom within,″ and showed that people thought it was important to participate.
″When you’re there with all the crowds - they’re part of us - you dive right in with them,″ said Mobley, 39.
For others, the weekend’s value lay in the lesson of the immigrant experience.
″It’s a good opportunity for the kids to realize that almost everyone’s roots are somewhere else,″ said Karen Kunisch, a Girl Scout leader from Allendale who brought scouts to the closing ceremonies in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford.
″We felt this was the chance of a lifetime,″ she said.
Gerry Repole, an assistant Scout leader, added: ″Along with the commercialization, they also showed brotherhood and sisterhood ... it showed people really care.″
But Edna Siegel of Harding Township said ″the original purpose was lost″ because of mixture of TV revenues and product endorsements used to finance the $30 million weekend of events.
For others, particularly some blacks, the celebration only highlighted the painful legacy of racism.
″What does the Statue of Liberty mean to me?″ said Warren Dews of the Bronx. ″It means nothing. I don’t feel free yet.″
However, said his wife, Barbara, ″I feel proud to be an American. There’s a lot to thank God for.″