Today is “Idaho Day,” the new holiday that commemorates the history and culture of the state; celebrations are planned from noon to 1 in the first and second floors of the Capitol rotunda. The Senate State Affairs Committee got into the Idaho Day spirit this morning with two measures: One from Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, clarifying that Idaho Day is firmly fixed on March 4, and if that date falls on a weekend it’ll be celebrated the Friday before or the Friday after; and the other a resolution from Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise, commemorating the 130th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.
Bateman told the committee that last year, 100 schools across the state recognized Idaho Day. “We expect to build upon that success this year,” he said.
Committee Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, alluded to the larger world as he asked Kloc to present his Statue of Liberty resolution, HCR 29. “I think this is particularly timely,” he said. “If you listen to any radio or see the news, there’s thousands of refugees trying to get into Europe right now, stuck at the border of Greece in Macedonia. We here in this country … I think it’s good for us as a nation to reflect upon our heritage."
Kloc said, "While there are many symbols that represent America, none are more recognizable than the flag and the Statue of Liberty.” He shared his personal connection to Lady Liberty, distributing the manifest of a ship that arrived in New York harbor on Oct. 18, 1949. Listed among the passengers: Shlomo Kloc. “After the officer at Ellis Island got through with it, it was Sam – it became Sam Kloc, that’s my father,” he said. “Luba became Libby, that’s my mother. Yakov became Jack, that’s my brother. And Hayim … that’s me.”
“You wonder what we were doing on a ship in 1949 coming into New York Harbor,” Kloc told the senators. “Well, I was born in a displaced persons camp in Essen, Germany at the end of World War II. My parents and my brother were survivors of the Holocaust.” Other family members, including his older sister, weren’t so fortunate. “”My parents and my family lived in the camp for four years waiting to come to America,” Kloc said.
“One day when I was 2 years old, we found ourselves sailing into New York Harbor under the watchful eyes of the Statue of Liberty. My mother picked me up so I could see, and as she was pointing to the statue, she said, ‘Look, America.’ And so for me, that Statue of Liberty was always America. Everybody was standing at the railing singing and crying.”
“This resolution is a chance for all Idahoans to tell America how much we appreciate her and what she stands for,” Kloc told the committee. The senators were moved, and unanimously endorsed the resolution, which states in part, “To all Americans the Statue of Liberty stands eternal as the symbol of the freedom which has been made a living reality in the United States for men and women of all races, creeds and national origins who have united in allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and to the imperishable ideals of our free society.”
The resolution now moves to the full Senate for final passage; it has a long list of co-sponsors from both parties and both houses.