Lady Liberty Lonely No More

The Statue of Liberty, closed immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, will reopen to the public this summer, Secretary of Interior Gail Norton said Tuesday, Tuesday march 30, 2004.
It's been almost three years since anyone has been able to walk inside the Statue of Liberty, so Iris and Mort November have had to make do with the one in their own back yard.

The Novembers, reports CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger, have filled their lives and their house with more than 2,000 replicas and reminders: tiny and tacky of the statue called Lady Liberty.

Give Iris November your tired, give her your poor, just don't give her any more statues. Her collection has already overflowed into a museum in Rochester, N.Y., where they are hard to ignore.

"I'm known as tacky," she says. "I am the queen of tacky."

Her mother sailed past the statue about 100 years ago, when she came to this country. And Iris November heard about it all through her childhood.

She says she feels a connection to the statue

"She just stands there, and we look at her, and she's just a statue, but she's not," says Iris November. "She's really an expression of love for everybody and the chance to be free."

Starting Tuesday, Iris November and everyone else will be free once again to get inside the statue, at least the pedestal. Closing it was a very visible restriction on a very visible symbol of freedom.

You still won't be able to climb into the crown, but the park service, which runs the statue, says it's still worth visiting.

"This is better than ever," says Cynthia Garrett, superintendent of the statue. "This is a new Miss Liberty standing strong, representing safety, security and freedom better than ever."

The re-opening is another milestone in the life of a statue that dominates the life of Iris November, and it comes at a time when new threats have brought new restrictions around buildings within eyesight of the statue.