By Ashleigh / Jan 24, 2023
He couldn’t believe it. His eyes grew wide as he looked closely, his fingers running over the letters.
He wondered how long it had been there.
How had no one noticed this before? He knew what he had to do: he had to call the authorities and experts immediately.
This was going to be a long night.
Larry McDern had been a security guard at the Statue of Liberty for over ten years.
Most would think that employees would get tired of seeing the oxidizing statue day in and day out, but for him, it was very much the opposite.
His position allowed him to be in on some very cool “secrets and symbols.”
Like Any Other Day
It was a breezy Wednesday afternoon.
The weather was barely creeping into autumn, so his rounds were much more comfortable.
He looked up at the Lady’s crown and grinned as one child said they were long diamonds.
They were actually meant as rays of light across the earth, but he kept his mouth shut. His eyes drifted to Liberty’s feet.
Everyone was interested in the crown, book, and torch.
However, there was plenty of other secrets at the base. On one foot, there are broken chains – symbolizing breaking from slavery and servitude.
The other foot was also special, but at the time Larry had no idea there was something new waiting to be discovered.
So Much More
The other food was partially raised – like the massive lady was stepping forward.
This also meant something special.
It represented the unending move towards freedom. Such little details, but to him, they were the most special.
It was as he was admiring the work, he noticed something was off.
There was some sort of discoloration on the raised heel. It was faint – the big girl had stepped in an off-green thread.
In his 10-year stint, he had never noticed that before. He raced through the throngs of tourists and slipped into the “employees-only door.”
His heart raced with a mixture of enticement and dread.
It was impossible.
They couldn’t have missed another symbol or message left by poet Édouard de Laboulaye, artist Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, or engineer Alexander Gustaf Eiffel.
Yes, the very Eiffel that made the French monument. Larry sprinted up the steps to the platform and pulled out his binoculars.
They were indeed letters!
But the particular shade green of the writing wasn’t that far off from the current color of the foot.
Even through the lens, Larry had to squint. “A-m-e-r-i-” His eyes turned wide, and he surprised huff.
He pulled out his walkie-talkie and called in the only expert who was on duty.
“Ken, get your stuff ready. We need you at one of the feet.”
A voice crackled on the other end.
“Why. What happened?” Larry glared at the letters. “The cops will have to tell us that. Don’t go up there until they arrive.”
Someone was going to have to answer for this.
Faint Hope, Gone
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Ken. “How did they managed to get up here?!”
Larry shrugged, feeling the same frustration as they stared at it up-close.
It had been an intense moment of child-like hope – that there was something new to be found within the monument.
But the truth left a sour taste in his mouth.
The message had been left with spray paint – “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves – Abraham Lincoln. – From, your French neighbors.”
At the bottom a dripping peace sign capped off the act of vandalism.
It wasn’t just the mess that was the problem.
Someone had managed to sneak up to the foot and leave the note – all without ever been spotted by cameras or staff.
It was a huge breach of security.
But the message itself had a gaping problem that would fall apart after a quick internet search.
Historians have all agreed that although the former President had mentioned similar sentiments throughout many of his speeches, he hadn’t actually said those words.
The misquote had been going for decades. For Larry, it was infuriating.
Why The Foot?
There was nothing to stop whoever had done this from just writing a sign and sitting on the grass in peaceful protest.
It was his right. Hiding it like that not only made sure no one would see it, but gave the cleaning specialists extra, frustrating work.
Still An Amazing Lady
In the end, it would be a matter for the police.
All he and his team could do was adjust their cameras and be more vigilant.
It was disappointing that there was nothing new to be found, but he could take solace in the fact there were still many other wonderful secrets hiding in Lady Liberty.
Larry couldn’t forget about his discovery, That night he played detective and gathered as many clues as he could about the vandalism.
He took a few of his own pictures and some video clips just to make sure that he caught every angle.
He took his job very seriously and he felt violated too, not just the statue.
The next day at work he decided to go through the camera footage himself.
Although he had reported the incident to the police, they took their own time to bring results.
He took it upon himself to scour the footage for any hidden clues.
Whoever the vandal was, he was smart. It wasn’t just anybody.
He started the video from earlier in the day, he watched dozens of tourists walk by. Nothing seemed unusual.
He fast-forwarded to the evening time just before they suspected the vandalism took place.
At that precise moment, something covered that particular camera.
The police discovered that it was simply chewing gum stuck to the camera lens.
Larry requested that they do DNA tests and they assured him that they would do everything possible to find the culprit/s.
A few more days passed and there was no news or progress.
Larry was getting anxious now.
The police had no leads and nobody had come forward to report any information. They were stuck.
Larry grew more frustrated with the passing days, he took the vandalism attack as a personal vendetta against his occupation.
He loved his job. He took pride in his work and he hated the person who trespassed against him.
His frustration turned to anger, he wanted answers. There was nothing else he could do about the situation.
He was a sitting duck.
A Better Plan
Larry took his job more seriously over the coming days.
He made a tighter schedule of his rounds so he would always be walking passed the quiet spots tourists were known to linger in.
He hadn’t noticed anything unusual except one thing.
Every day around 4:40 PM when he was about to do his last round for the afternoon, he would find a piece of candy wrapper on the floor near where the foot was vandalized.
He didn’t think anything of it, there was often litter laying around even though there were tight rules about food and drink on the premises.
National Parks Services
A Good Eye
It was only on the fourth day that something really got him thinking. The candy wrapper was stuck to the foot with a piece of gum.
Someone would have had to put it there and press it down hard.
Larry was furious. Was the vandal back? How did he get past him again? Was he mocking him?
coast to coast
Larry immediately took a picture and ran up the stairs to the security office.
He told the security officer to check the footage around 4 PM.
There were 5 people walking around the spot where the wrapper was found. It was impossible to tell who it was.
The camera angle was all wrong and the people were moving too quickly.
A Sharp Crook
The security guard was also dumbfounded. Larry’s blood was boiling.
This was it. He had to come up with a plan to catch the sneaky culprits.
As though there was some divine intervention, at that moment Larry received a phone call.
They had the lab results back from the gum on the camera.
They didn’t find any human DNA, because they assume the vandal softened the gum with water and his fingers.
But they did discover the exact make and brand of the gum which was only sold in one store in the area.
Larry breathed a sigh of relief. Was this the lead they had been waiting for?
Larry told the police detective about what he had just seen on the foot.
The detective told him to record the evidence but not to touch anything. Larry agreed and waited for the detective’s arrival.
He told the security guard to keep watching the video footage just to make sure they hadn’t missed anything.
Larry was finally feeling hopeful. After the last few weeks of him feeling incompetent, there was a ray of light that the truth would be revealed.
He hardly slept since the incident. He lay awake almost every night thinking about who the vandal was.
Was it somebody that knew him? Was it personal revenge? He wasn’t the friendliest guy around and knew that he had stepped on a few tails in the past.
Comes with the territory.
A Serious Matter
The incident had made it into the newspapers and the vandal was seen as somewhat of a street performance artist.
Larry scoffed at the idea that anybody could praise such work.
He told the security officer that the general public was a bunch of idiots and accepted rubbish as art.
This was no laughing matter as his reputation was on the line.
The detective had arrived in record time. Larry was surprised by his efficacy.
He had his forensic team scour the area and bag the evidence. This time they were up to speed and they were going to act quickly. “Thanks for your service,” the detective said as he looked at the bagged evidence, “I’m sure we are on the closing end of this case now.”
Larry looked skeptical but he was eager to find the truth.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.