While reading Dard’s Liberty as Image and Icon, I was struck by the following quote used to describe the Statue of Liberty:
At times she has seemed dynamic, at other times static. Liberty, it appears, has been buffeted not just by the harsh winds of New York Harbor but also by changing public moods and styles, by clashes of will and purpose, and by unpredictable events. Yet onlookers have insisted upon humanizing her, investing in her their concerns of the moment, appealing to her for relief and remedy, and transferring to her their wishes and hopes.
This moved me. Despite our numerous discussions of the downfall of America and its values, this statement made me remember what our country was founded on: dreams and a new life. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom. I desperately sought an image that would represent this notion.
Instead, I found this image of tacky M&Ms souvenirs.
Now, on one hand, we could view this as a positive representation. That the ideals the Statue of Liberty once had have been transferred into other outlets, instilling these ideals into children and adults alike.
Yet on the other hand, and more realistically, this is a prime example of how our ideals have fallen to the wayside. Now, iconic images like Lady Liberty are used purely as a vehicle for consumerism. People who purchase this tacky replica are unlikely to attribute any value to it; they will instead hand it to their five-year-old nephew as a souvenir.
I still think that the Statue of Liberty represents a great time in our history and noble ideals. However, I fear that Americans fail to see, let alone embrace, those ideals.