(sent to NYCstories on Tuesday, September 24, 2001)
I was in Union Square on Saturday, amidst the red, white and blue chalk drawings, posters, mounds of votive candles - shrines to our lost citizens - when I came upon the Statue of Liberty: Regal in her flowing robes, torch aloft, face held high. Many people were gathered round.
After a few minutes, to the surprise of some, she moved. She stepped off her granite footing, kicking it over. Revealed was her backpack (also in Liberty Green) and her lunch which she grabbed up. She sat down to eat on the park steps. This was the moment when, while mesmerized by her sudden humanness, people felt she was suddenly approachable, especially the kids.
Several adolescent boys sat down on the steps next to her, mouths agape. I overheard her patient response to their inquiry about her green face. As she bit into her chicken sandwich, “No, that’s make up.” she said. Then when she was challenged about her decision to take a break, her retort was firm, “This is my job. I’m just having my lunch.”
A sign in front of her said she was raising $10,000 for the WTC victims’ families. She had gotten almost half way. I furthered her goal and then walked up to her. Would she be here tomorrow? I wanted to come back with my camera and some friends. She looked around and said, “Maybe, but probably not.” Miss Liberty was moving on.
“Well, you’re doing a fine job.” I took the opportunity to say, musing to myself that I never thought I would get to tell her this in person.