Tag Archives: Emma Lazarus

Women’s History Month 2012: Lady Liberty

9 Mar

On October 28, 1886, an icon of the American spirit was dedicated in New York Harbor. Liberty Enlightening the World, better known colloquially as the Statue of Liberty, is intended to welcome all comers to our shores and to represent the best of the American spirit. To acknowledge this, poet Emma Lazarus created a special sonnet to accompany the statue, The New Colossus. Lazarus herself was a worker for social justice, fighting anti-Semitism and writing articles and poems encouraging fair treatment of all people. Her words are stirring:

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!”

But just how well do these words resonate with the nation in which we live today?  How sad that the 1% who seem to control our government (John Boehner et al. and all of the GOP presidential candidates) have no interest in Liberty:  “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.”  How sad that we hear politicians talk of building walls to keep people out and states like Alabama demanding documentation from every Latino citizen.  How sad that all of the GOP candidates, even Dr. Ron Paul have no interest in preserving human life, as they sat in deafening silence when a group of their supporters cheered for death. How sad that all of the GOP presidential candidates signed a pledge to discriminate against the LGBT population–not exactly the words of liberty that can be read on the very foundation of Lady Liberty.  I encourage all to reflect on the Statue of Liberty and what she stands for–social justice!

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