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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 August, 2004, 22:24 GMT 23:24 UK
Symbolism and security for 'Lady Liberty'
By Laura Trevelyan
BBC correspondent in New York

A Swiss family are among the first few thousand tourists to visit the reopened Statue of Liberty
The statue is now open to the public for the first time in three years
For Geoff Jusko and his two daughters, the trip from New Jersey to Liberty Island in the sweltering heat was not hardship but homage.

The children's grandfather was one of the thousands of immigrants uplifted by the sight of the Statue of Liberty as they arrived on nearby Ellis Island hoping to gain entry into America.

Mr Jusko, a retired police officer, wanted his daughters to understand a little of their family history.

But he also wanted to be there in person to witness the reopening of an American landmark closed after the 9/11 attacks.

"I guess I'm here to show that America is open for business, to show the terrorists we won't be defeated," he said.

Symbolism and security

That was a sentiment echoed by many of the other families who came to watch the opening ceremony presided over by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The mayor asked rhetorically if the ceremony should have been postponed following the recent warnings of potential terrorist attacks on financial institutions in the city.

"To stay home and lock our doors is what the terrorists want," declared the mayor to loud applause.

This was a day full of positive symbolism, from the reopening of the statue itself to the patriotic rendition of America the Beautiful by a chorus of Liberty Belles at the culmination of the ceremony.

"The place has never been so clean," observed one of the National Park Rangers on duty for the grand opening.

Armed security offices on patrol near the Statue of Liberty
Security was tight at the statue reopened
Newly installed security screening devices sent air blowing through the clothes of everyone who passed through them.

On hand to explain all was a helpful PR from the company who dreamt up the scheme.

"Even a trace of explosive on your clothes will be picked up by this," he explained enthusiastically.

SWAT teams patrolled the base of the Statue of Liberty, the unsmiling, heavily armed men a reminder of how much America has changed since 9/11.

Helicopters hovered overhead, and the planned flypast of F-15 aircraft never materialised.

Even the site of the Statue itself is a reminder of what happened on that fateful day nearly three years ago.

The panorama of Manhattan is not what it was the last time visitors set foot on Liberty Island - the skyline is incomplete, the twin towers but a memory.

The partial reopening of the Statue has been criticised by some New York politicians, who claim it is a failure of leadership and courage to only allow visitors back into the base of the statue and not up into the crown.

Geoff Jusko did not mind though - he was just glad to be there to see for himself the enduring symbol of the American dream open up shop once more.




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