Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Birthday to our Lady in the Lake

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated 121 years ago on October 28, 1886.

Currently, if asked, I am Transylvanian, Dutch, Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, British, French, German, and possibly Choctaw. Except for that one small possibility, I'm 100% immigrant. I'm also 100% American.

The presence of anti-Immigrant attitudes in America disturbs me. It tells me we're forgetting our history. I wonder if some people were to have a conversation with the spirits of their great-grandparents, what those ancestors would say to them.

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!"

-- "The New Colossus" - by Emma Lazarus

Lovely Lady Liberty
With her book of recipes
And the finest one she's got
Is the great American melting pot
The great American melting pot.

-- "The Great American Melting Pot", Schoolhouse Rock

I like Polish sausage, I like Spanish rice,
and pizza pie is also nice
Corn and beans from the Indians here
washed down by German beer
Marco Polo traveled by camel and pony,
he brought to Italy, the first macaroni
And you and I as well we're able,
we put it all on the table

-- "All Mixed Up", by Pete Seeger (also performed by Peter, Paul, and Mary)

3 comments:

Janice said...

John,

Even our ancestors forgot their past. I remember reading about my home town (Manchester NH) history. The Scots-Irish were there first. They were upset when the English showed up to settle. In turn those folks collectively were upset when the Irish came to live there, and they complained strongly about their treatment. Then when the French-Canadians arrived, the Irish were prejudiced against them. And so forth for the Polish, German and other groups who immigrated. Realize now it was not just a prejudice. There were newspaper articles about actual violence against members of various ethnic groups. This experience was not limited to one place.

We, as a people, sadly have never lived up to the lovely but untrue story of America being a welcoming place for immigrants.

Janice

Becky said...

All in all, I think the "idea" of United States of America is far more powerful than it is in reality. The potential is there, but will it ever be realized? And, by the way, you're off by 100 years, it was 121 years ago...

John said...

How I managed to get a higher SAT score on my math back in high school than I did on my verbal, I'll never know.

There is a difference between government policy, and individual policy. There has always been fear of the 'other' in the US, and elsewhere - I'm not sure that's something that can be unlearned completely from the human mind.

My ancestors faced prejudice most often based upon their religion, as opposed to their nationality, but the borders weren't closed to them. They were given an opportunity. They found communities where they were accepted.

In some degrees our society is definitely more open today, but the prejudiced elements of society seem to have more control over the reins of government than they did in the past.