His eyes turned wide as he ran his fingers over the letters.
How long had it been there? How did no one not see this before? There was only one certainty – he was going to have to call in the authorities and experts. It was going to be a really long night.
Larry McDern had been a security guard at the Statue of Liberty for over ten years.
Most would think that employees would get tired of seeing the oxidizing statue day in and day out, but for him, it was very much the opposite. His position allowed him to be in on some very cool “secrets and symbols.”
It was a breezy Wednesday afternoon.
The weather was barely creeping into autumn, so his rounds were much more comfortable. He looked up at the Lady’s crown and grinned as one child said they were long diamonds. They were actually meant as rays of light across the earth, but he kept his mouth shut. His eyes drifted to Liberty’s feet.
Everyone was interested in the crown, book, and torch.
However, there was plenty of other secrets at the base. On one foot, there are broken chains – symbolizing breaking from slavery and servitude. The other foot was also special, but at the time Larry had no idea there was something new waiting to be discovered.
The other food was partially raised – like the massive lady was stepping forward.
This also meant something special. It represented the unending move towards freedom. Such little details, but to him, they were the most special. It was as he was admiring the work, he noticed something was off.
There was some sort of discoloration on the raised heel. It was faint – the big girl had stepped in a off-green thread.
In his 10-year stint, he had never noticed that before. He raced through the throngs of tourists and slipped into the “employees only door.” His heart raced with a mixture of enticement and dread.
It was impossible.
They couldn’t have missed another symbol or message left by poet Édouard de Laboulaye, artist Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, or engineer Alexander Gustaf Eiffel. Yes, the very Eiffel that made the French monument. Larry sprinted up the steps to the platform and pulled out his binoculars.
They were indeed letters!
But the particular shade green of the writing wasn’t that far off from the current color of the foot. Even through the lens, Larry had to squint. “A-m-e-r-i-” His eyes turned wide, and he surprised huff. He pulled out his walkie-talkie and called in the only expert who was on duty.
“Ken, get your stuff ready. We need you at one of the feet.”
A voice crackled on the other end. “Why. What happened?” Larry glared at the letters. “The cops will have to tell us that. Don’t go up there until they arrive.” Someone was going to have to answer for this.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Ken. “How did they managed to get up here?!”
Larry shrugged, feeling the same frustration as they stared at it up-close. It had been an intense moment of child-like hope – that there was something new to be found within the monument. But the truth left a sour taste in his mouth.
The message had been left with spray paint – “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves – Abraham Lincoln. – From, your French neighbors.”
At the bottom a dripping peace sign capped off the act of vandalism. It wasn’t just the mess that was the problem.
Someone had managed to sneak up to the foot and leave the note – all without ever been spotted by cameras or staff.
It was a huge breach of security. But the message itself had a gaping problem that would fall apart after a quick internet search.
Historians have all agreed that although the former President had mentioned similar sentiments throughout many of his speeches, he hadn’t actually said those words.
The misquote had been going for decades. For Larry, it was infuriating.
There was nothing to stop whoever had done this from just writing a sign and sitting on the grass in peaceful protest.
It was his right. Hiding it like that not only made sure no one would see it, but gave the cleaning specialists extra, frustrating work.
In the end, it would be a matter for the police.
All he and his team could do was adjust their cameras and be more vigilant. It was disappointing that there was nothing new to be found, but he could take solace in the fact there were still many other wonderful secrets hiding in Lady Liberty.