After years of planning by Eagle Scout Thomas Schmidt of Troop 447 in Laurinburg, and a grand unveiling ceremony in September, the 16-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty now standing before the Clinton V. Willis National Guard Armory has a new possession: a replica of the torch held aloft by the original statue in New York.
"To me, this addition is the final touch that makes the statue a perfect monument in our community," said Schmidt, who earned his Eagle Scout rank as a result of the project. "The statue looks much more complete now."
The torch, which replaces a transparent globe that came with the statue, was donated by friends of Dr. Bradley and Kyle Bethel of Laurinburg.
"A couple by the name of Patrick and Sidonie Brun-Wibaux of Georgia have been dear friends of our for years," Dr. Bethel said. "Since we knew that Sidonie ran a lamp shop, and that she might have something that would fit the statue, we mailed a copy of the Laurinburg Exchange article that covered the unveiling of the statue to them.
"Sure enough she had something that would fit, and Patrick and Sidonie decided to donate the item to make the statue complete."
Bethel, who said the Brun-Wibauxs left Europe for the United States because they "don't believe in socialism", had first offered to buy the fixture.
"They insisted on donating it," he said. "They were interested in the story and agreed that the round globe needed to be replaced. It was a heartfelt gesture for them to make this contribution."
The statue was unveiled on the Sept. 11 weekend this year in a ceremony attended by military and civilian supporters.
Speaking to the assembly, Schmidt said that the real focus of his project was "to honor our veterans, our troops, and those who died during the 9-11 attack. I hope this effort will encourage the troops, and what better time than Sept. 11 to have a service in their honor."
Gen. Willis, for whom the armory is named, said that Schmidt's project "will be remembered as a significant moment in his life. This is an excellent project he's undertaken, and one that will demonstrate what a great country we have."
The armory is located at 1520 South Main St. in Laurinburg.