On this day in 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor. Originally known as Liberty Enlightening the World, the massive statue was a gift from France to the United States. The poem by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, enshrined on a plaque at the base was written to express Lazarus’ sympathy for the refugees from anti-Semitic pogroms in eastern Europe, after she had initially declined to dedicate a work to statue as a part of a fundraising effort. The plaque containing the poem was installed in 1903.
A reminder of Lazarus’ poem seems appropriate given the current global refugee crisis, and the reluctance of many now – as then – to take the refugees in.
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!”
Image from Wikipedia