Friday, July 15, 2011

Searching for Liberty

While standing at the tip of Manhattan Island’s Battery Place Park, I scanned the New York Harbor in search of the Statue of Liberty.

My parents and grandparents journeyed by sea from Eastern Europe with thousands of immigrants seeking safe haven in America in the early 1920s.

I was born and bred in America, a first-generation citizen of the New World. By gazing at the harbor and the boats at sea, the history of my family’s cross-continental voyage was revealed to me. They were part of the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

My Blackberry camera zoomed into Liberty Island struggling to catch a glimpse of the majesty of the golden lamp that metaphorically lightened the sorrow and the burden of many freedom seekers. The sparkling, rippled waters dominated the simple snapshot. In the distance, the diminutive sculpture surfaced, perhaps, as it had appeared for my parents and grandparents 89 years ago.

Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teaming shore.
Send these the homeless tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

- Emma Lazarus, mounted on a plaque besides the Statue of Liberty

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