Recently my daughter and I visited New York City. While known for its hustle and bustle, culture, fashion and architecture, our visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island was all about freedom. One glimpse at the beautiful Lady and it is easy to see how the words to Emma Lazarus poem are so fitting, “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!”
Ellis Island is where our ancestors, those “huddled masses” crowded through the lines waiting for their turn to see if they met emotional, medical and compentence tests that would allow them access to the “golden door.” My daughter Carrie commented, “They traveled such a long journey to get here, then once they arrived, they still had a huge ordeal to go through.”
While most made it in, there were many that were detained waiting for family or for a decision to be made. About ten percent of the arrivals had to go back home. On the audio tape, one woman reflected on a huanting memory of her great-grandmother being sent back while all those that could take care of her remained. She commented that it was the last time they saw her.
I took time to think about how hard won my freedom is on the 4th of July. I am thankful when I see the young men and women and veterans that fought so hard for us. But, from now on, I will also include my ancestors, our ancestors that traveled the treacherous seas to come to the New World and forge a new life. America was and still is the land of hope and the land of dreams.