Huddled masses yearning to breath free

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

One thought on “Huddled masses yearning to breath free”

  1. Thank you. I’ve not read the plaque in its entirety for many years. It’s important to remember that if we do not learn to share what we have that others don’t, our society will shrivel up and stagnate in our self importance, guarding our possessions and becoming paranoid of other’s motives. Where’s the freedom in that?

    I have a friend who took refugees into her home. The experience was difficult as she suffered the cultural differences of their use of the facilities, privacy and personal space. It can be difficult to live with people you love, but it can be even harder to share your space with strangers who think and act differently than you.

    Rules and conditions of welcome are not to be sneered at, and they go a long way in eliminating the fear that mass migration can generate.

    What is obvious to me is that immigration is an issue our world, our country , our society, and yes, ourselves personally have to deal with. Not complain or run away from the whole issue. I pray that history will demonstrate a compassionate and noble world view.

    Thank you.


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