"Give me your Tired, your Poor, your Huddled masses Yearning to breathe Free." These words are part of a poem entitled "The New Colossus" and placed with a very famous lady in New York harbor. In 1886 this lady was given to the United Stated by France in honor of the alliance that stood between our two countries during the Revolutionary war. I've always wanted to travel to New York and see this Grand Dame but never found the opportunity to do so. Fortunately for me, and my followers, one of her little sisters resides right here in Illinois.
The year is 1951 and the Boy Scouts of America, celebrating their 40th anniversary, are in the midst of a two year campaign called "Strengthening the Arm of Liberty" in which they emplaced over 200 scaled down replica's in cities and town all over the country. One of these replica's is in the small town of London Mills, IL.
Originally conceived by Jack Whitaker of the Kansas City area council for the Boy Scouts, these statues were made by Friedley-Voshardt of Chicago and constructed of sheet copper panels just like the original. It stands 8 1/2 feet tall without the base and weighs 290 pounds. The cost in 1951 dollars was 350.00 plus freight.
This particular replica was officially dedicated on July 25th, 1953 and has held her torch high ever since. On the day we visited she greeted us from her perch, also a scaled down replica of Liberty Island at the entrance to the city park. It's a quiet, restful spot right on the banks of the Spoon River and stands as a silent reminder that Liberty, no matter where one might find it, still stirs the soul and warms the heart.
So if you ever find yourself bored on a weekend and are willing to make a drive, consider traveling down to London Mills. You may not see the 'Biog Apple' but you Can see the Lady who has welcomed travelers and immigrants to our shores for the last 131 years.