MessagesFollowing are the messages delivered to the runners by Lieutenant-Governor Krupsak and Congresswoman Abzug at the Battery Park ceremony.
Lieutenant-Governor Mary Ann Krupsak: I am honoured on behalf of Governor Carey and the people of New York to officially welcome our Canadian friends and neighbours and these inspiring young men of America, who are embarking on this unusual, meaningful and historical Bicentennial event.
As I thought about what you were doing and undertaking, the sheer magnitude of the vision of it, the symbolic meaning of it, brought to my mind so much of what we in New York believe is our mission: being like the Statue of Liberty that you see out there in the Harbour — the Gateway to America, the place that keeps the fire burning and offers the warmth of hospitality. You are indeed fulfilling that mission. And our good friend from Canada who is joining you, will be doing that, too. [Richard Butler, leader of the Canadian runners, had been invited by the Liberty Torch Runners to join them for the duration of their run.] All across this country, as you pass the torch, you will meaningfully symbolise the constancy, the openness and the ideals of America for everyone who would wish to be part of this great country.
The ideals of this country are indeed truth, love, peace and progress. We have tried and we will continue to try to spread those ideals and to mean them and to live them. So much of what you will be doing over the next several weeks will in every way impart the message of cooperation, constancy, devotion and integrity.
The meaning of what you are about to begin today is so inspiring that I just wish you God speed, and I hope that you will have many people along the way who will cheer you, and wave at you, and smile at you and say, “You’re doing it for all of us.” I wish you well.
Representative Bella Abzug: I am very pleased to be here to assist as our Lieutanant-Governor lights the torch that will start the relay here in New York off to the rest of the country and back to Washington. It’s a very interesting race. The Lieutenant-Governor and I have been in many races. But this one may be a bit more difficult, and I salute you for that. When you start running through my district, I hope my constituents won’t think it’s the Redcoats coming again. But you see, we’re so accustomed to disaster that it’s very hard for us to accept the lightness and the glory and the heartfelt sense that you’ve conveyed in your singing of your hymn on America. [The runners had sung Sri Chinmoy’s song “O My America”.]
“O My America"
America, America, America!
Great you are, good you are,
Brave you are, kind you are.
O my America, America,
Is earth’s aspiration-choice.
With you, in you
Is God-Hour’s Victory-Voice.
It’s a very symbolic moment, as the Lieutant-Governor pointed out. Yours is a race and a torch for liberty. We will all be reminded by it of the struggle to create liberty in this country, the liberty that has been created by both the men and the women who have built this great country.
As you carry your torch, it will serve as a reminder to Americans everywhere that we must dare to keep the torch of liberty burning. And as you run throughout this country and bring your spirit, you will also bring a warning that we have liberty, but that we must always fight for it if we are to keep it. You will end your race in Washington, which is a place that desperately needs that reminder. We have seen the effort to take away our liberty in the very heart of our own capital.
What you say to Americans in the course of your relay, and what you bring in your hearts, has to be reflected in the deeds that we in America must do. As we dedicate our Bicentennial, we are reminded by your torch of the fight and the struggle for liberty. We also have to rededicate ourselves to a significant goal: to secure for the people a liberty that is meaningful — not only one which preserves our precious freedoms of speech, of press, of religion, of association and of the right to petition for redress of grievances, but also the kind of liberty which gives us the will to make certain that there is abundance for everyone. I hope that no one whose head, heart or soul you reach will fail to realise that liberty means also the necessity to provide shelter and food and clothing for everyone, and an atmosphere that is of high quality, as well as the right to earn a living and the right, most importantly, for peace on this earth, in our country and in every other country. I salute you, and my hat is off to you!
After Ms. Abzug’s speech, Sri Chinmoy was introduced as the inspirer of the run. He said a few brief words of prayer for the runners, and then prayed in silence for several minutes with the audience.
Sri Chinmoy: I wish to pray to the soul of America to bless these Liberty-Torch runners and to grant them meaningful outer success and fruitful inner progress.
Lieutenant-Governor Krupsak then lit the torch, as Tanima sang “America the Beautiful”. One of New York City’s fire boats gave a five-minute salute as the runners started on their way. After stopping briefly to lay a wreath on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial, the runners continued up Manhattan’s East Side. As they passed the United Nations Headquarters, the torch was passed to Sri Chinmoy, who carried it onto the grounds of the U.N., offering the inmost spirit of America’s Bicentennial to the community of nations.