The Statue of Liberty almost didn’t happen.
When the statue was conceived, it was agreed that the French pay for the statue, and the people of the US pay for the pedestal. However, fundraising in the US proved difficult in the late 1800s and the construction of the pedestal was halted due to lack of funds.
Joseph Pulitzer (of Pulitzer prize fame) then started a donation drive. Pulitzer published New York World, a New York newspaper, and pledged to print the name of every contributor, no matter how small the amount. His notes sparked my imagination along with that of thousands of New Yorkers.
60 cents from “a young girl alone in the world”, the result of self denial.
“Five cents as a poor office boy’s mite toward the Pedestal Fund”.
A group of children sent a dollar from “the money they saved to go to the circus”.
A dollar from a “lonely and very aged woman.”
A kindergarten class in Davenport, Iowa, mailed the World a gift of $1.35.
As you can imagine, the donations poured in and the pedestal’s construction resumed.
We know the Statue of Liberty to a symbol that welcomed immigrants and refugees to the free shores of the US. But given that its origin story, it is also a monument to ordinary people everywhere, who sacrifice on the behalf of something larger than own selves.