This past weekend I went to NYC with my mother for a mini-vacation and some bonding time. I’ll save the commentary on the city and litany of things we did for the next post, but I wanted to dedicate a post to the Statue of Liberty.
As a child I loved this statue. I remember visiting my cousin in the city when I was young, (certainly under ten years old) going to the statue and even then being enthralled by it. As a young child I’m sure I was impressed by this woman, crowned and draped in a toga, holding out this shiny golden torch. I’m sure the scale of the statue as I stood beneath it was mesmerizing for me and that I loved getting to see this wonder I’d seen in my history books in person.
Now, a little older, all those same things still impress me, but more than any of those, what gives me chills every time I see this image is what it means. What this statue, this beacon, meant to so many people coming to America. The ultimate beacon of hope, the symbol of what America means and has always meant – this woman welcoming people into the land of opportunity. This country where you can come with nothing and there is (almost) no limit to what you can achieve; this country where the strength of the human spirit and intelligence flourishes. I see this statue and I am so proud and thankful I am an American.
The poem beneath the statue is one of my favorites. To me the emotion evoked in those words is so strong that even when I read it silently, in my head, I give it the inflections as if it were a dramatic reading of it.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Author: Emma Lazarus