Mother of Exiles

Statue of Liberty (cc) Wikimedia Commons

Statue of Liberty (cc) Wikimedia Commons

Happy 125th birthday to Lady Liberty.

The New Colossus” (1883) by Emma Lazarus

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!

As the US stands in cross-roads, Emma Lazarus’ poem is worth re-visiting. How easy it is to forget that this is a country made great by the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. This is not (and I hope it never becomes) the ancient land with storied pomp.

(side note: Talking Points Memo has pulled together a great archive of 125 year old photos from the birth of the Statue of Liberty.)

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