NEW YORK — All around America this past year, students painted murals, performed plays, washed cars, sold cakes and cookies--all to raise money to help restore the Statue of Liberty. In a nationwide competition, they also wrote essays on the meaning of liberty and the significance of the statue.
When Challenger crew member Sharon Christa McAuliffe was killed in the space shuttle explosion in January, the contest was renamed in her honor--"The Christa McAuliffe Liberty Essay Contest."
Winners--one from every state--were present Saturday as First Lady Nancy Reagan cut the ribbon rededicating the statue. Here are some selections from the winning essays:
"The Statue of Liberty makes a lot of people happy because she is freedom. Freedom means people can do things they want to do."--Kristeen Reft, 9, Karluk, Alaska
"I'm glad to live in Colorado, a very beautiful part of our country. I can fish, camp or whatever I want to do. I can go to another state without asking. I'm free to do whatever I want to as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else."--Josh Tackett, 8, Aurora, Colo.
"The Statue of Liberty has taught people to feel for other people. She has taught us to love one another. She makes you feel good inside. She is the teacher of friendliness. The Lady is the person who stands for freedom and liberty."--Andrew Anderson, 10, Ottumwa, Iowa
"The Statue of Liberty stands for the compassion that the United States should always feel for others. The Statue of Liberty holds her torch and lights the path to America. It's up to us to keep the door open."--Jamie Pietruska, 12, Tiverton, R.I.
"My great-grandmother came to America from Poland. The first thing she saw was the Statue of Liberty. Then she knew she had the freedom to live a free life."--Jennifer Dee Minnen, 8, Nashville
"She stands at the gateway of our country to invite others to share our freedom. I wish that one day there would be freedom and peace all over the world. That is what our Statue of Liberty means to me."--Jason Verhelst, 10, Madison, Wis.
"My family and I are from Vietnam. . . . We wanted to live in America, a land where there is liberty and justice. Every time we saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty, my mother would tell us that SHE is America. America is a place that lends a hand to those in need. After we arrived in America, we promised our mother to love, care and protect the Statue of Liberty."--Hue Cao, 11, Waipahu, Hawaii
"When the French gave the Statue of Liberty to America, we were so happy to see it! But the French were very sad to see it leave France. We made them a little one and you can see it when you visit France."--David McAdam, 9, Sherman Oaks, Calif.