By Zachary Cardillo
Since 1886, immigrants arriving in America — specifically New York Harbor — would sail toward Ellis Island and be overcome, laying eyes on the beautiful Statue of Liberty. This included my great-great-grandparents, who sailed from Sicily and Naples, Italy. This decision, like many continue to choose today, gifted my grandparents the ability to fight for their American dream.
In 1969, my grandfather, Anthony P. Cardillo, started TAP Electrical Contracting Services Inc., a company that began in the basement of his home. His father was the bookkeeper, and his children began working when they were of legal age. The company’s legacy continues with his children carrying the torch and his grandchildren in line to follow, as a true family business.
My grandfather was many things; a family man, a hard worker, and a trustworthy businessman. But above all else, he was a great storyteller who could enthrall you in his stories like no other. He never told a story with pompousness; he was humble about his stories and wished to share them with any ear that would listen. While I heard many stories from him throughout the years, one of my favorites dates to one he told when I was fifteen.
Over forty years ago, my grandfather got a call offering TAP Electric the chance to restore Lady Liberty’s light in New York. My grandfather jumped at the opportunity to do so as he believed there was no better symbolism for immigrants in the United States than the Statue of Liberty.
Within a few hours, he gathered a crew and headed to Manhattan to assess and relight Lady Liberty’s torch.
As a company founded by the children of immigrants, it was an honor to be chosen for the work on a monument that held such meaning to all American families — including ours — who came to this great nation in search of a better life.
Many of TAP Electric’s employees, then and now, from management down to the warehouse staff, were descendants of those who sailed past the Statue of Liberty on their way to their American Dream.
It was a proud time for our company and a project that will forever be a part of our legacy.
Each TAP Electric employee tasked with rushing to the Statue of Liberty’s aid can forever know that they had a hand in relighting the flame of the greatest, most iconic symbol of our freedom to its original glory.
Shortly after, President Ronald Reagan tasked the Statue of Liberty — Ellis Island Foundation with raising $265 million for the restoration and conservation of both the exterior and interior of the Statue of Liberty in 1982.
Lee Iacocca, the chairman of the quintessential American brand, Chrysler Corporation, one of the country’s Big Three auto manufacturers, was chosen to oversee the Foundation and the restoration project.
Work swiftly began to complete renovations by her 100th birthday, with teams of experts repairing holes in the copper skin, removing paint buildup from the copper skin and internal iron structure, and replacing rusted iron armature bars with new stainless steel bars.
Now, decades later, there is no better time to recognize the skill of artisans who erected the original statue and those who came later to maintain her glory than Independence Day.
As my grandfather once told me, they were not simply union electricians doing their job, but Americans basking in the glow of a project of national importance for all who love our nation and what it stands for.
God bless America and the great symbol of freedom Lady Liberty represents for all.
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Zachary Cardillo is the third generation of TAP Electric’s founding family. While holding a law degree and being an admitted member of the New York State Bar Association, he proudly works as an Assistant Project Manager on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) 68th Street / Hunter College Station Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) modernization.