Today, Lady Liberty turned 125 and one Coast Guardsman had a special invitation to the historic celebration on Liberty Island. Petty Officer 3rd Class Anatoliy Gryshchenko was one of 125 naturalization candidates from 40 countries who took the Oath of Allegiance in front of the universal symbol of freedom and democracy.
“I came to this country in 2005, back then I knew that my life would change,” said Gryshchenko, a Ukrainian born in Karlolipnektovsk, USSR. “Growing up I remember looking at a magazine and seeing the Statue of Liberty and Golden Gate Bridge, saying to myself that one day, not knowing how, I would see them up close.”
Little did he know that he would not only see Lady Liberty in person but also become a U.S. citizen during a ceremony honoring the statue’s 125th anniversary.
“I served for two years as a Coast Guard Honor Guardsman. Big ceremonies were our specialty, but I could never guess that someday I would get to attend one as a guest,” said Gryshchenko who joined the Coast Guard in 2008 and is now a health services technician at Training Center Cape May, N.J.
The National Park Service will also share another acclaimed feature of Liberty Island with the public in honor of the anniversary – the panoramic aerial view from the statue’s torch that has been off-limits to visitors since 1916. Starting today, you can take in the scenary from the statue’s extended arm as the torch webcam begins to live stream to anyone, anywhere in the world.
You can also wish Lady Liberty a happy birthday yourself on Twitter @HappyStatue125!