Friday, October 10, 2008

Explosion at Liberty

As I poured through the pages of research I was led a stray again. The story of the Statue of Liberty was amazing – I couldn’t resist the diversion.

There was a time that you could walk up in the Statue of Liberty’s arm to the torch...but not anymore.

The Statue has remained a powerful symbol over all the years and has remained. Everyone knew the story of how it stands at the harbor entrance and welcomes immigrants to the USA. Much has been written about that romantic part.

Alida and I first saw the Statue of Liberty in 1967 – the year we were married.

Some of the facts about this structure are amazing…
  • The head is offset 24 inches from its frame inside. The arm is 18 inches to the right and forward of the frame.
  • Bartholdi, the artist that designed Liberty, made the changes as they were building it.
  • The frame first was designed and constructed by another very famous person named Gustave Eiffel – who made the other really famous tower in France names after him.
  • The frame was made of Iron and the exterior of the Statue is copper – later on this combination would prove a problem was the copper leaked and the iron corroded.
  • The story of the face of the Statue of Liberty is fascinating in itself…it is either the face of Isabella Boyer, wife of Isaac Singer – the sewing machine guy, or it was the face of the artist’s mother…Charlotte Bartholdi…
(You see when you start to search something you can end up in amazing places.)

On June 30, 1916 at 2:08 AM, in Jersey City, New Jeresy, there was a horrific explosion - named the Black Tom Explosion. Black Tom was an island that was situated beside the Statue of Liberty and it was the storage place for the ammunition used and shipped by the Americans to the Allies in World War I.

The explosion was equivalent to an earthquake of 5.0 to 5.5 on the Richter Scale – breaking windows up to 25 miles away.

From the report I read I found the following…
“It was reported that on the night of the attack, two million pounds of ammunition were being stored at the depot in freight cars, including one-hundred thousand pounds of TNT on the Johnson Barge No.17, all awaiting eventual shipment to Britain and France.”

There is a plaque at the site of the explosion that tells more…

Explosion at Liberty!On July 30, 1916 the Black Tom munitions depot exploded rocking New York Harbor and sending residents tumbling from their beds.The noise of the explosion was heard as far away as Maryland and Connecticut. On Ellis Island, terrified immigrants were evacuated by ferry to the Battery. Shrapnel pierced the Statue of Liberty (the arm of the Statue was closed to visitors after this). Property damage was estimated at $20 million. It is not known how many died.Why the explosion? Was it an accident or planned? According to historians, the Germans sabotaged the Lehigh Valley munitions depot in order to stop deliveries being made to the British who had blockaded the Germans in Europe.You are walking on a site which saw one of the worst acts of terrorism in American history.

The last statement is odd and slightly outdated… in that directly across the harbour is where the Twin Towers once stood until 9-11 took place.

So what has it to do with us today?
I have come to see again the power of the story behind the story…and how powerful it can be.

Behind every person that I saw yesterday was a hugely important story. A young lady I met in the morning explained her journey from birth and rearing in Peterborough to her upbringing in North Bay and finally coming back to Peterborough. She is only about 24 and has already lived a lifetime.

In my class, the lady that say across the table from me is a mystery…the fellow beside her is quiet and deep – very creative, the lady beside him is mature(but younger than me) and has a deep, quiet beauty. The fellow between the two of us is noisy and makes a statement about every single thing the teacher talks about.

The stories that each of us have may never be told – but do they ever empower our lives… and touch the lives of many others.

As I have been thinking of this the Psalm 42 came to mind…
In the Message it reads…
6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God's prayer.

And in the New International Version Psalm 42 is written…
6 my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
8 By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.

It is the “Deep calls to Deep” and/or the “Chaos calls to Chaos” that stirs me. Every story has meaning… every life has a story…

~ Murray Lincoln ~
Sources –

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