When the Boy Scouts of America gifted the city of Cedar Rapids with an 8 foot, 4 inch replica of the Statue of Liberty, in 1950, Lady Liberty became a focal point in the center of the city — in Green Square. Sometime in the 1980s vandals took a baseball bat to the statue and the attack left her dented and bruised, and pieces of her crown broken. That is when Gary Myers, a member of Sheet Metal Local #263 was first involved in helping Lady Liberty return to her grand state. Her dents were filled and her exterior refurbished, and she returned to her pedestal in the familiar square.
After five decades, city officials decided to move the statue nearer to the seat of city government, on Mays Island. Since 2003, Lady of Liberty has stood on the First Avenue Bridge crossing the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Then on June 13, 2008, nature brought 31.12 feet of river water flooding over 14% of the city, 10 square miles of devastation. Damage in the billions (2.4) of dollars included destruction of the city’s public library, the Veterans’ Memorial Building (that also housed city government), the Federal Building, and other public and private buildings and homes—as many as 1,500 properties would eventually be demolished. Among the structures damaged was the Lady of Liberty —ripped from its cement base and toppled on its side along a sidewalk. When the statue was recovered she was, according to Andrew Goodrich, in four pieces. Objects moving down the river, at an estimated 70 miles an hour, had scarred her copper and her foot was completely severed and somewhere down stream.
City officials knew whom to call and it wasn’t long before Gary Myers got a call to help restore Lady Liberty. Arrangements were made to take the statue to Sheet Metal Workers International Association’s Local #263’s Joint Training and Apprenticeship Center in the Southwest part of the city. A sandblasting company was enlisted to remove the paint and corrosion coating the exterior of the statue. When the statue was returned to the center Gary Myers and three other skilled craftsmen—all retired members of Local #263: Andrew Goodrich, Michael Kane, and Jerry Hintz put their skills to work to restore the statue to its former state as a grand lady. They soldered pieces back together. They shaped metal plates to form the structure needing restored, and finally after over 300 hours of time, and with the assistance of painters from Painters Local Union 447, Lady Liberty was ready to be rededicated— on the third anniversary of the flood of 2008, June 13, 2011.
Four men—skilled craftsmen giving of their time and talent to restore one symbol of freedom and liberty.
“It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation that it has free and independent labor unions.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
In 1950, Boy Scouts of America donated 8 ½ foot tall replicas of Ellis Island’s Statue of Liberty to 102 - 200 communities across the nation in their “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty” campaign. One replica was gifted to the city of Cedar Rapids (Iowa). More information about the Boy Scout project can be found at Cheyenne, Wyoming’s Boy Scout Troop 101’s website at http://www.cheyennetroop101.org/liberty/.