Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Lady Liberty

October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in New York's harbor in a ceremony attended by President Grover Cleveland and witnessed by a steamship crowded with European immigrants arriving to the shores of America with weary eyes and huge dreams.

Most people have heard the phrase, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," but how many of us have ever read the complete poem engraved into Liberty's base? It was written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus, and is titled "The New Colossus."

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-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Truth is...while many a dream has been shattered amid our fields of amber grain, and one would be tempted, in the deafening roar of political mud-slinging, to think we've gone beyond the point of no return, there still lives here in the land of the free and the home of the brave a hope that will not die and a commitment to peaceful coexistence that will not waver.

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