Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lady Liberty

I was brought up to believe that everyone is equal. No man is better than any other. There is only those who try and those that do not. "You can be whatever you want to be!" That wasn't just lip service served up by my parents. I really believed it. I was brought up to believe that my country was great. My United States embraced all races, religions and creeds to build a better nation. My United States took the attributes of all her people (native and immigrant) and used them to make a better America. To me the poem at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty most closely represents my America.

The New Colossus

By Emma Lazarus, 1883

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


I have always loved this poem and now as I see my country fractured I can't help but wonder has the America in my head disappeared? What happened to the America that respected the immigrant? What happened to the America that wanted to embrace all and give everyone a shot at the American Dream. The America who with gall and enthusiasm said "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send THESE, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I life my lamp beside the golden door!" What makes the immigrants of today any less deserving of the immigrants that built the skyscrapers of New York or settled the farmlands of the Mid-west? Only one thing, time. Time for people to forget that America was built on the backs of immigrants. Maybe America just needs to remember that.