Perhaps one of the most recognized icons in the world is the Statue of Liberty that stands in New York Harbor. It is no wonder it has hundreds of smaller replicas all over the world. The scaled-down Guam Statue of Liberty is a tanned replica that stands in Paseo Park very near the Hagatña Boat Basin so that all arriving and leaving boats can see it. Hagatña is the capital of Guam.
As most people around the world know, the original Statue of Liberty in New York was a gift from the people of France to the United States as a symbol of American independence. Designed by Frederic Bartholdi, a popular French sculptor during his time, the statue is a giant female, apparently a Roman goddess, who bears a torch to enlighten the world. The official name of the statue is actually “Liberty Enlightening the World.” On her other hand is a tablet on which is written, “American Declaration of Independence.” It was dedicated on October 28, 1886. Not many onlookers see the broken chain lying on its feet, a dramatic representation of liberty. The equally gigantic pedestal on which Lady Liberty stands was constructed by the United States government.
Because of her beauty and what she represents, the Statue of Liberty is replicated more than a hundred times all over the world. There are smaller versions of Lady Liberty in many European countries, which include Paris, Germany, and Spain; South America, which include Argentina, Brazil and Peru; and Asia, such as China, Vietnam and the Philippines; as well as across the United States, such as in Minnesota, South Dakota, and California.
Guam is a US territory in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This island-nation was very strategic when the United States and its allies fought to win back the Pacific area during World War II. In 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and only after a few hours began bombing Guam as well. Japan eventually took control of the island. In 1944, US troops returned to the island and reclaimed Guam and liberated the Asia-Pacific region. A good number of American soldiers died on Guam soil.
From 1949 to 1952, the Boy Scouts of America engaged on a unique and historic project, which they called “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty”. To celebrate their 40th anniversary, the Boy Scouts of America purchased about 200 scaled-down replicas of the Statue of Liberty and donated them to 39 states and off-shore territories, which included Guam.
The Boy Scout statues were about 8 feet tall (without the pedestal). They weighed 290 pounds and originally cost only $350. Today, they are worth much more than that as they have become important pieces of American history, especially after 9/11. Many have been destroyed or lost. The mass-produced copper statues are nothing like the original one. They are not great art pieces but they are, today, priceless.
The Guam Statue of Liberty that stands in Hagatña is not the original 1950 statue. It may just be a replacement statute, but it is, nonetheless, priceless for its history and for what it stands for.