125 modern-day immigrants gathered in front of the Statue of Liberty to take the oath of citizenship on Friday—marking the monument’s 125th birthday.
The new American citizens, who hail from 46 different countries, waved tiny flags and posed for photos with their citizenship certificates during the naturalization ceremony on Liberty Island.
The event echoed the original dedication ceremony on Oct. 28, 1886—when the Statue of Liberty was first gifted to the United States by France, as a symbol of friendship between the two countries and their shared dedication to liberty and democracy. 125 years later, actress Sigourney Weaver read the iconic poem “The New Colossus” inscribed under the statue, followed by a firework display set to patriotic music.
The anniversary celebration commenced the statue’s yearlong closing. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who also delivered a speech during Friday’s ceremony, will oversee the monument’s $27.25 million renovations—which will include the addition of a spiral staircase leading into the statue’s crown and webcams from the torch; providing panoramas of the Manhattan skyline, the Hudson River, and Liberty Island.
Last month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Mayor Michael Bloomberg also gave speeches celebrating the statue’s 125th year.