Terrorism warnings fail to deter statue reopening
NEW YORK (AP) -- With military music and Interior Secretary Gale Norton on hand to officially open the doors, the Statue of Liberty welcomed back huddled masses of tourists today for the first time since it was shut down after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The reopening ceremony began with a military choir singing to the applause of the crowd, with CNN anchor Aaron Brown serving as master of ceremonies. "I can't imagine a higher honor than to be in this place at this time," Brown said.
Plans to reopen Lady Liberty's pedestal to the public went ahead despite new warnings over the weekend of possible terrorist attacks on financial centers in nearby Manhattan, Newark, N.J., and Washington, D.C.
"I think it shows the world that liberty cannot be intimidated," Assistant Interior Secretary Craig Manson said during a media preview tour Monday.
"I think it's significant that despite the raising of the alert levels, we are still going ahead with the reopening."
The public will be allowed to enjoy the panoramic view from the observation deck at the top of the pedestal, about 16 stories above ground. The rest of the statue will continue to be off-limits because it cannot accommodate large numbers of tourists and does not meet safety codes.
Tightened security measures at the 118-year-old national monument include a new anti-bomb detection device that blows a blast of air into clothing and then checks for particles of explosive residue. Bomb-sniffing dogs also were present during the preview.
Liberty Island, the statue's 12-acre home, was closed for 100 days after Sept. 11, 2001.
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