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History's Happenings for October 28

Statue of Liberty Dedicated

A symbol of Liberty both to Americans of ancient heritage, and to the millions who sailed into freedom under her upheld torch, the Statue of Liberty has guarded the eastern gateway to America since October 28, 1886, when she was officially dedicated by President Grover Cleveland.

A gift from the French people, the statue was offered in remembrance of the French-American alliance that meant so much to the success of the American Revolution, and to the spirit of freedom that flowed thence into the French Revolution of 1789.

It was designed by sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who supervised the work of French artisans as they painstakingly hammered the individual copper sheets into predetermined shapes to form the great lady's skin. The sheets are riveted to an iron frame designed by renowned French engineer Gustav Alexandre Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower.

The completed statue, less its current pedestal, was displayed in Paris after its completion in July, 1884, then disassembled and shipped to its new home in America. The granite pedestal on which it stands was constructed on site on Liberty Island, formerly the site of Fort Wood, which stood guard over New York Harbor during the War of 1812. The remains of the fort form the star-shaped enclosure around the pedestal.

The Great Lady's torch symbolizes Liberty. In her left hand, she holds a tablet on which is inscribed the date July 4, 1776, which significance to the concept of freedom needs no explanation. The seven rays of her headband symbolize the seven seas and continents, to which she extends her invitation to a better life. Overall, she stands 305 feet tall.

On her pedestal is engraved a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1903, the last part of which has become one with the image of the Lady of Liberty ...

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land:
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this wonderful gift -- something almost unknown in the America of the 21st century -- is the fact that both the statue and its pedestal were paid for entirely with the pennies and francs of ordinary citizens. No government funding. No tax rebates. No sneaky budget deals.

Now that's Liberty.

Birth of Captain James Cook

British Navy Commander James Cook, discoverer of Australia, Antarctica, Hawaii and a raft of other Pacific isles, was born the son of a farm worker on October 28, 1728.

Shortly after enlisting in the Navy, he earned the right to master his own ship and spent nine years charting the eastern reaches of what would become Canada. In 1768, he took command of the Endeavour, and headed off on his now famous South Pacific exploration, the primary purpose of which was to deliver a group of astronomers to recently discovered Tahiti. From Tahiti he sailed to New Zealand, charting a great part of the unknown coastline, and thence to eastern Australia, which he claimed for Britain in 1770.

He set out anew from England in 1772, this time in search of the legendary southern continent, of which Africa was believed to be a part. In January, 1773, he was the first to cross the Antarctic Circle, and sailed along the coast of Antarctica, no doubt marveling at the world of ice that confronted him. But it was not the hoped for southern continent.

Sailing home again through the South Pacific, he discovered a variety of islands, including New Caledonia and Easter Island. A stickler for ship-board health, his crew suffered far less from the ravages of such typical maritime afflictions as scurvy than did most sailors of the day.

Captain -- a title accorded any ship's master -- Cook's last voyage began in 1776, as he sailed in search of the oft-sought northwest passage between Atlantic and Pacific over North America. Approaching from the Pacific side, Cook discovered Hawaii on the way, which he named the Sandwich Islands, after the Earl of Sandwich.

But the Northwest Passage eluded him as it had all previous explorers. When ice turned him back from the Bering Strait, he returned to Hawaii where, in 1779, he was killed by locals in an argument

Battle of White Plains

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Congress Passes Prohibition

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Mussolini Grabs Power in Italy

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Cuban Missile Crisis Ends Peacefully

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Pope Paul VI Issues Vatican II Resolutions

Planting the seeds of inter-denominational cooperation and of the transition to the vernacular Mass, the Second Vatican Council was announced by Pope John XXIII in January of 1959. It met for the first time in October, 1962, and continued to hold discussions until December, 1965. Over two thousand bishops from around the world attended the opening meeting.

Only the twenty-first Ecumenical Council ever officially held in the two thousand year history of the Roman Catholic Church, the meetings covered a broad agenda of Church, family, political and economic issues.

Among its findings were the first steps toward replacing the ancient Latin Mass with the local vernacular. And as the first Council to which non-Catholic clergy were invited as observers, it sought to reach out across denominational lines for common ground.

When John died in 1963, before the Council could finish its deliberations, Pope Paul VI carried on his work, and announced the Resolutions on this date in 1965.

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