Posted by: Jack Henry | September 18, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Liberty and Keystones

Because both of my parents are from Pennsylvania originally, I have always been aware that Pennsylvania is known as “The Keystone State.” I didn’t, however, know exactly what a keystone was. As I rode around Manhattan on a boat, the guide mentioned that the Statue of Liberty is holding a keystone in her arm: not a bible or a tablet, but a keystone.

It seemed like the perfect time to find out exactly what a keystone is, and why lovely Lady Liberty is holding one.

Here is an excerpt about it from a government site:

Liberty’s keystone-shaped tablet is cradled in the left arm. It is a representation of law written down for citizens of the nation to see and read. Upon it, “July 4, 1776” recognizes the date on which the American colonies declared their independence from England. The Roman numerals were incorporated into the design to acknowledge conceptual ties to the goddess of Liberty from the Roman era.

The keystone in architectural design is a critical component. The stone specifically cut into this shape supports all others within an arch. Therefore, the tablet pays homage to our republic’s keystone document: The Declaration of Independence. The declaration was initially read aloud to the general public in Pennsylvania, also known as the nation’s “Keystone State.”

And here are definitions of the literal and figurative keystones, along with a few more examples:


noun: keystone; plural noun: keystones

1. a central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole together.

2. the central principle or part of a policy, system, etc., on which all else depends.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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