The man was deeply tanned, like a construction worker. It was obvious he was a hard working man who worked outside doing some sort of manual labor. The sun coated his skin a deep, shiny bronze. His wife wore no make-up, but she was beautiful, with her hair pulled tightly back, away from her face. The five young children, 4 girls and 1 boy, all looked between the ages of 4 and 9, and were well behaved as they sat and ate dinner, listening to their dad lead the conversation.
I was struck with a sense of deja vu when I saw them. When I was a young girl, on the rare occassions we went out to dinner, I imagine we looked just like this family. My dad was also a deep bronze colored hard working man who stood straight and tall. My mother also did not wear make-up, but looked beautiful with her light copper skin and tightly woven hair. We children also sat at attention as our dad spoke of his workweek adventures or stories of his past.
As I watched them, I thought of Emma Lazarus' poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor,I thought of this young, beautiful family who came to our shores, yearning to breath free, looking to achieve the American Dream, through hard work and education for their children.
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!"
Emma Lazarus' poem gave a profound meaning to the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps Emma was inspired to write her message straight from the Founding Fathers' hearts. In writing the Declaration of Independence, they shared with us that Liberty doesn't only mean the freedom the colonists yearned for from Britain, Liberty also means freedom to come to our country and create a new life without religious or ethnic persecution. Through Emma's poem, the Statue of Liberty became a symbol of Freedom, a symbol that all men/women are created equal, as our Founding Fathers' believed.
I believe it is important we NOT allow today's restrictionists to instill fear or hatred of immigrants into us. We cannot demonize them and believe we are superior to them. The reality is, we ARE them, only generation(s) later.
The demonization towards immigrants has happened so many times in the past towards Germans, Italians, Irish, and now Latinos. We overcame the rantings of our nation's past restrictionists. I am confident we can overcome their rantings today.
As JFK said, "We are a proud nation of immigrants." Ronald Reagan said,"divine providence" has made the United States a home for "a special kind of people from every corner of the world, who have a special love for freedom." This is our heritage. This is our culture. We continue to evolve and will continue to evolve into a beautiful, multi-ethnic, multi cultural society. The Land of the Brave and the Home of the Free!
God Bless America
Happy July 4th
(and thank you Emma for a beautiful poem!)