Powerful reminders of truly important values

The dove-like wings of the Oculus building are pictured behind one of the two memorial pools that sit in the footprints of the former World Trade Centre Twin Towers at the 9/11 Memorial complex. Photo: Helen Speirs
The dove-like wings of the Oculus building are pictured behind one of the two memorial pools that sit in the footprints of the former World Trade Centre Twin Towers at the 9/11 Memorial complex. Photo: Helen Speirs
Joss Miller reflects on two great symbols of freedom.

In a world that often seems divided how uplifting it is that there exist in certain places symbols whether in statue form or memorialised, that intrinsically represent what is best about humanity.

These symbols are powerful and transcendent. They lift us beyond ourselves and invoke the deepest of emotions.

The city of New York contains two symbols of outstanding significance. One is the Statue of Liberty, which soars majestically above New York Harbour with its torch strikingly held aloft lighting the way.

This statue is almost 100m high and was dedicated in 1886 as a gift from the people of France to commemorate the alliance between France and the United States during the American Revolution.

The statue has been an enduring beacon and inspiration to millions of immigrants from distant lands fleeing from poverty, war and oppression to create new lives for themselves in a country providing them freedom and opportunity. On a plaque in the museum at its base are the immortal words '' Give me your tired, your poor/your huddled masses yearning to breath free.''

A second more recent symbol is the beautiful September 11th Memorial situated in lower Manhattan commemorating the events of that day in 2001 when evil terrorists inflicted wanton and criminal destruction on an unprecedented scale, resulting in the deaths of thousands of ordinary New Yorkers.

The once mangled and shattered buildings have been replaced by a tranquil grass and tree-lined space with two large pools in the areas which once formed the base for the Twin Towers. Inscribed around the parapets of the pools are the names of those who died, including nearly 400 firemen.

The water from the pools flows softly downwards, seemingly into infinity. There is a strength and calmness about this as though a tranquilliser is soothing unbearable pain, conveying a sense too that the abominations of that day are being washed away.

This memorial provides solace and hope. A sacred place for quiet reflection.

High above, a new tower has risen, this also an enduring symbol of the strength of the human spirit in overcoming adversity and showing that the struggle for decency and freedom will ultimately prevail over the forces of evil and hatred.

These two New York symbols - one old and one new - will continue to shine a light for generations to come and remind us of values that are truly important.

-Joss Miller is a retired Dunedin lawyer.

 

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