Monuments & goals

It is a tale of two monuments - and one country. In New York City the Statue of Liberty closed late last month for major repairs: It's expected to reopen July 4, 1986. But across the continent in San Francisco, the cable car system started up again. For 20 months it had been closed for renovations

To the casual tourist the 100-year-old Statue of Liberty looks sturdy. But inspection shows a need for repair. So it was with the 109-year-old cable cars.

There is plenty of symbolism here. Even the most revered concept needs to be looked at closely from time to time: It may require minor adjustment or major renovation. Time-tested principles or institutions with a role in the future need to be adhered to. Like the two monuments, they're anchors of stability in a sea of change.

Inscribed on the Statue of Liberty is the invitation America extended to generations of grateful immigrants: ''. . . Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,'' poet Emma Lazarus wrote. Implicit is the promise to all Americans that they live in a land of opportunity and freedom. It is a goal the nation should always strive for, along the way renovating not only its monuments but also its laws and institutions to keep them strong and effective.

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