By Rebecca Terrell
Americans celebrate the birthday of the United States each July 4. The year 2022 marks the 246th anniversary of the day delegates from the original 13 American colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. In it, our Founding Fathers acknowledged that rights come from God, not from government, a concept upon which all our freedoms and responsibilities are based.
However, there is another anniversary unique to American history that is commemorated on July 4. On that day in 1884, France presented the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World to the United States of America. Created by sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, it was intended to signify the past century of friendship between the two nations. It has since become a symbol of the freedom and liberty from God that our Constitutional republic safeguards for her citizens.
In creating his masterpiece between 1881 and 1884, Bartholdi — aware of his own personal dependence on God’s gifts — begged divine assistance with the following words:
The statue was born for this place, which inspired its conception. May God be pleased to bless my efforts and my work, and to crown it with success, the duration and the moral influence which it ought to have.
Nearly one year after the 1884 presentation in Paris, Lady Liberty arrived in New York Harbor, where completion of the pedestal and re-assembly of the statue took another year. Her unveiling and inauguration ceremony occurred on October 28, 1886.
At the event, the reverend Richard S. Storrs, D.D., delivered the following invocation, which acknowledges God’s absolute authority over all nations on earth and their obligation and duties to Him. On this anniversary of our country’s birth, it is an apt reminder to all Americans that our freedom depends on this sacred submission.
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who art of infinite majesty and mercy, by whose counsel and might the courses of the worlds are wisely ordained and irresistibly established, yet who takest thought of the children of men, and to whom our homage in all our works is justly due: We bless and praise Thee….
It is in Thy favor, and through the operation of the Gospel of Thy Grace, that cities stand in quiet prosperity; that peaceful commerce covers the seas….
We pray that the Liberty which it represents may continue to enlighten with beneficent instruction, and to bless with majestic and wide benediction, the nations which have part in this work of renown….
We pray for all the nations of the earth; that in equity and charity their sure foundations may be established; that in piety and wisdom they may find a true welfare, in obedience to Thee, glory and praise; and that, in all the enlargements of their power, they may be ever the joyful servants of Him to whose holy dominion and kingdom shall be no end.
Quotes taken from America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations by William J. Federer.