I’ve never visited the Statue of Liberty, but before I lost my sight, I often saw images of this one hundred fifty foot tall icon that welcomes all who sail into New York’s harbor. For me, the Statue of Liberty stands for all that is good about America, as put so beautifully by the poet Emma Lazarus-
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
The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, was dedicated on October 28, 1886. Shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in sections, the copper clad skeleton was erected on a pedestal on what would later be renamed Liberty Island. The pedestal was paid for by thousands of American citizens who donated to a fund raising campaign headed by Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World newspaper.
According to Wikipedia-
Pulitzer pledged to print the name of every contributor, no matter how small the amount given. The drive captured the imagination of New Yorkers, especially when Pulitzer began publishing the notes he received from contributors. “A young girl alone in the world” donated “60 cents, the result of self denial.” One donor gave “five cents as a poor office boy’s mite toward the Pedestal Fund.” A group of children sent a dollar as “the money we saved to go to the circus with.” Another dollar was given by a “lonely and very aged woman.” Residents of a home for alcoholics in New York’s rival city of Brooklyn—the cities would not merge until 1898—donated $15; other drinkers helped out through donation boxes in bars and saloons. A kindergarten class mailed the World a gift of $1.35 from Davenport, Iowa.
This story brings me to tears, this is my America, the America I believe in, good people working together to build a better world for all. We need a new common vision, a project all Americans can contribute to as we collectively deal with challenges our country has never faced before.
May I suggest for starters, that you consider donating time or money to your local food bank. Millions of our fellow Americans are suffering through intense difficulties and they need our help.
I believe in America’s good. I believe in you!
You might also appreciate: Lincoln Portrait Revisited; If