In 1883, in an effort to raise money for the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus was asked to write a poem. Initially she declined, but later penned The New Colossus that was read at an auction of art and literary works. Though the statue opened in 1886, it wasn’t until 1903 when a plaque that bears the text of the poem, was placed on the pedestal of the statue, reinventing the purpose of Lady Liberty as a welcoming mother to refugees and immigrants.
My own ancestors passed through Ellis Island from Ireland and England, with few possessions and courageous hope. Almost everyone I know can claim descending from immigrants. We are a beautiful melting pot! And so this last year has caused my heart to break as I see nationalism and xenophobia on the rise, as I cringe at the push to ban Muslim immigrants and label them as dangerous, as I hear chants of “build the wall” to isolate us from our neighbors. So to deal with my angst I joined forces with Emma Lazarus to write this poem to my daughter,and for myself.
Writing can be so cathartic.