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Originally published Friday, October 28, 2011 at 8:07 PM

125 new citizens mark 125 years for Lady Liberty

The United States celebrated the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty on Friday with the naturalization of 125 new citizens from 46 nations, a ceremony of unity that temporarily put aside the political and geographical changes associated with the issue of immigration.

Los Angeles Times

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Statue webcams: www.earthcam.com/statueofliberty

quotes Welcome and congratulations to 125 new fellow citizens. It is fantastic to have honora... Read more

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The United States celebrated the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty on Friday with the naturalization of 125 new citizens from 46 nations, a ceremony of unity that temporarily put aside the political and geographical changes associated with the issue of immigration.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar kicked off the daylong celebration with a speech praising immigrants for bringing diversity to the nation, thus strengthening it.

The new Americans pledged to renounce foreign powers and then posed for photos with their citizenship certificates.

The birthday party concluded with a 12-minute fireworks display choreographed to patriotic music.

"I feel like if you live in a place, you should have a say in the politics," said Paul Currie, who moved to the U.S. from South Africa eight years ago. "Otherwise, you're an outsider."

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, was conceived to symbolize the friendship between the two countries and a shared love of liberty. President Grover Cleveland dedicated the statue on Oct. 28, 1886.

Designed to be a lighthouse, it became a symbol of hope for waves of European immigrants coming to the United States to avoid famine and war.

George Cleveland, 59, said his grandfather was prescient when he said that "a stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man's oppression, until liberty enlightens the world."

"We are still a work in progress," George Cleveland said.

Then, with a 3-2-1 countdown, webcams streaming views from the statue's torch were switched on. The cameras offer panoramas of the Manhattan skyline, the Hudson River and Liberty Island.

Poet Emma Lazarus famously captured the feeling of the throngs of immigrants who passed by Liberty Island on their way to new lives in a new land in her tribute, "The New Colossus." Her lines — including "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" — were eventually engraved on a brass tablet, which is now displayed in the Statue of Liberty Museum.

The statue's interior will close for about a year Saturday for renovations, though Liberty Island will be open.

Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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