She stands alone, an island, in the harbor. She faces out to sea or as in this photo Red Hook. She stands as a welcoming beacon, holding her torch high for all to see and she stands in stark contrast to the current administration’s immigration policies. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. She was a gift from the people of France. Her pedestal was also crowd-sourced. Emma Lazarus wrote her sonnet, “New Colossus” to help defray its costs. The only inscription that appears upon her is written on the open page of the tome that she holds, JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776). After her death, Lazarus’s poem was immortalized with a plaque affixed to the pedestal that it helped to fund. Her official name is Liberty Enlightening the World. But she has many affectionate nicknames: the Statue of Liberty, Lady Liberty, the Lady in the Harbor, the Mother of Exiles, and yes, some admirers simply call her Torch Girl. Conceived, built and dedicated in the 19th-century, during a period of intense immigration, she welcomed millions of Americans to their new home. I find it interesting that Lazarus, like her biblical namesake has risen to such prominence and enduring relevance. Her words epitomize an ideal, an ideal that has made our country truly great. An ideal that we will not turn our backs on now. Here are her words:
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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
— Emma Lazarus