Liberty Torch returns to New York
Rather than end the run in Washington DC as originally planned, the runners decide to continue on to New York City, where the run began.
There, they are honoured by a parade through the busy Wall Street area and a ceremony on the steps of Federal Hall. Speakers at the ceremony are New York City Mayor Abraham Beame, Mr. Bernard Jackson, Special Assistant to Governor Hugh Carey, Police chief Carl Ravens of Manhattan South Area and Sri Chinmoy. A military Colour Guard is present and the veterans of Foreign Wars Grand National Championship High School Brand, from Milwaukee, play several pieces.
Following are transcriptions of the speeches that are delivered, on the steps of Federal Hall:
Sri Chinmoy: America, the world salutes the beauty of your Soul. America, the world salutes the power of your Heart. O great and good Liberty Torch Runners, you are teaching the world how to appreciate, admire and adore the perennial Spirit of independence-light. You are telling the entire world that the true love of one's dear country and God's supreme Satisfaction-Smile are eternally one and inseparable.
(Sri Chinmoy then meditates for a few minutes, hands folded on his heart.)
Jeff Kamen (MC): Ladies and gentlemen, for the official greeting of the Liberty Torch Runners, Mayor Abraham Beame.
Mayor Beame: Thank you very much, Jeff. Sri Chinmoy, Chief Ravens, Mr. Jackson, David Gershon, and the wonderful team: aren't they great? (Applause from the crowd.) It's really a great privilege for me to welcome the Liberty Torch Runners back to New York City. This is a year in which it seems as though everybody is running for something. But the race run by these 33 fine young men was something unique and quite spectacular. They've run 9,000 miles non-stop through all 50 states, and they did it in 47 days and at their own expense.
They did it as a way of celebrating our country's 200 years of expanding freedom. They wanted to show how America's spiritual values have been rekindled. And by carrying a flaming Liberty Torch wherever they ran, they brought a message of confidence and faith in ourselves to every one of our 50 states. As Mayor of the City of New York, I am proud of the fact that this super-marathon began here in Battery Park in sight of our Statue of Liberty; I am proud of the fact that most of the runners are New Yorkers; and I am proud of their nationwide achievement.
These New Yorkers took a message to every State in the Union and the District of Columbia, namely, that the residents of this city can determine their goals and accomplish them, that they deeply love this great country of ours and that they share the aspirations of people in every part of America. Day after day and night after night headlines in local newspapers and broadcasts on local radio and television stations paid tribute for more than a month and a half to the stamina, will and friendliness of the Liberty Torch Runners. In truth, this was a super Bicentennial event.
Mr. Gershon, New York is proud of you and of all your teammates. And now it is my great pleasure to read a proclamation which makes this day Liberty Torch Day in the city of New York.
(Mayor Beame reads the proclamation.)
Jeff Kamen: Governor Carey had planned on coming today, but one emergency or another has caused him not to be able to come. So today we get to meet somebody new and terrific, Bernard Jack-son, Governor Carey's personal assistant on urban affairs. He's got a special presentation to make to the Liberty Torch Runners from the Governor.
Mr. Bernard Jackson: Chief Ravens, Mayor Beame, Sri Chinmoy and Mr. Gershon: Mr. Gershon, on behalf of the Governor I will read these very brief remarks and make this presentation to you.
“The Liberty Torch will burn forever in the thoughts and dreams of the nation. The young men who carried it 9,000 miles have left a path of light in the hearts of all Americans. I greet you.” Signed, “Hugh Carey, Governor of the State of New ” Thank you.
Jeff Kamen: One of the finest of New York’s Finest is with us here today: Deputy Chief of Police, Carl Ravens, in whose district you are right now — Manhattan's South Area. Let's give a nice hand to chief Ravens, a fine cop.
Chief Ravens: Thank you. Mayor Beame, Sri Chinmoy and Mr. Jackson: the flaming Liberty Torch and its runners have been preceded and followed by the flashing lights of police cars wherever they ran in the 50 states. The police were there, I believe, not only to ensure safety but also to show their oneness with the ideals expressed by this most ambitious athletic event of the Bicentennial. Police officers know the value of teamwork and the challenges of dedicated action. The Liberty Torch Runners have achieved both, and I salute them. Thank you.
Jeff Kamen: One of the Mayor's friends has just sent us a note. We don't usually read out notes from friends, not at public events, but take a listen anyway.
“Although my schedule does not permit my attendance today, I am delighted to have this opportunity to share this great event with you. The spirit of the Liberty Torch Runners is the same spirit that has carried this Nation for 200 years.” Signed, “Jimmy Carter.”
Published in AUM – Vol. 3, No. 8, August 27, 1976