One hundred and thirty-five years after the Statue of Liberty was formally unveiled in New York Harbor, her “little sister” has taken up residence in front of the French ambassador’s home in Washington, DC.
The miniature Lady Liberty was officially inaugurated in a ceremony with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday, coinciding with France’s Bastille Day.
“Liberté and égalité – they translate very easily into English, but there’s no single word in English – brotherhood, sisterhood, solidarity, fraternity – that I think perfectly captures the essence of fraternité,” Blinken said in remarks at the ceremony, referencing the French national motto.
“But I think it’s fair to say that fraternité is the word that best defines the relationship between our people and our ongoing struggle to improve our democracies and advance the ideals embodied in the light that shines the world, at home and around the world,” he said. “So may she continue to remind us the principles we share and the work that remains to live up to them. And may we never be cured of yearning for freedom.”
French Ambassador Philippe Etienne said “it means a lot” to have the statue in the United States, calling it “a strong reminder … of the friendship between the French people and the American people.”
“It’s a reminder of the importance of this core value of liberty for the world,” he told CNN, noting that the formal title of the Statue of Liberty is “Liberty Enlightening the World.”
The “little sister” is an exact replica of the original but is one-sixteenth the size. It was crafted from sculptor Auguste Bartholdi’s 1878 plaster model and stood on display at the National Museum of Arts and Crafts in Paris for a decade before beginning its journey to the US.
In early June, the 1,000-pound, nine-foot tall statue was uninstalled from the museum and placed “in a custom-designed plexiglass container specifically for our ‘little sister,’” according to Ed Aldridge, the President of CMA CGM North America – the company that handled the shipping and logistics for the statue.
Aldridge told CNN they “took tremendous care and very detailed, thorough planning to make sure (they) did it right.”
“We trucked her very carefully to Le Havre, France, where we put her on board one of our CMA CGM ships and then took her to New Jersey and then trucked her to Ellis Island, and then eventually we trucked her down here to the Ambassador’s residence,” he said.
The statue was displayed near its world-famous “big sister” in New York City at the beginning of July, and Aldridge told CNN that they sped their ship up to get the statue across the Atlantic in time for Independence Day.
Following the dedication on France’s national day, the statue will remain at the ambassador’s residence in the US capital for 10 years.
This story has been updated with additional details.