• Statue of Liberty N.M.

    Statue Of Liberty

    National Monument New York

War and Liberty

A poster of numerous U.S. Navy vessels sailing in New York Harbor during World War I entitled “Uncle Sam’s Big Fighting Ships.”
A poster of numerous U.S. Navy vessels sailing in New York Harbor during World War I entitled “Uncle Sam’s Big Fighting Ships.”
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 

Wartime tended to diminish the celebration of the Statue as a sign of economic opportunity in the United States and even the call for universal rights for all men and women. At this moment the homeland had to be defended, and the monument came to be seen by soldiers sailing overseas as a symbol of a home to which they might never return. Stories about perceptions of the Statue during the great wars of the twentieth century show that the image served the need to sell war bonds and mobilize for the defense of the United States and its families. Returning servicemen and women were often moved by the sight of the Statue as they entered to New York Harbor following the wars.

 
A poster promoting the sale of Liberty Bonds during World War I.

A poster promoting the sale of Liberty Bonds during World War I.

National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM

The monument became not only a sign of the United States as home but increasingly acquired martial implications as well. The Statue of Liberty was often associated with the military.
 
This early 1940s poster urged Americans to support soldiers overseas in order to protect and preserve “Liberty for all.”
This early 1940s poster urged Americans to support soldiers overseas in order to protect and preserve “Liberty for all.”
Library of Congress
 
This poster, circa 1917, promoted the sale of Liberty Bonds.

This poster, circa 1917, promoted the sale of Liberty Bonds.

National Archives

Perhaps the most dramatic use of the Statue of Liberty to evoke a protective and patriotic response was the 1918 Liberty Loan poster designed by Joseph Pennell, which displayed the Statue of Liberty destroyed in the harbor.

 
This poster, circa 1917, promoted the sale of Liberty Bonds.

This poster, circa 1917, promoted the sale of Liberty Bonds.

National Archives

Not all of the World War I wartime uses of the Statue were militaristic. Some posters encouraged war efforts on the home front.

 
This poster asked immigrants not to waste wheat during the war.
This poster asked immigrants not to waste wheat during the war.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
 

The Statue of Liberty remained a very powerful symbol, embodying a wide range of meanings and adapted every day to represent new ideas. After 9/11, people in New York once again called upon the Statue to express their grief, horror, and rage.

 

Did You Know?

Original

The Statue's original torch was the first part constructed in 1876. In 1984 it was replaced by a new copper torch covered in 24K gold leaf which is lighted by floodlight at night. The original torch is currently located in the lobby of the monument. Access to the torch has been closed since 1916.