The summer after my freshman year of college, my family took a two-week, cross-country trip. We were coincidentally (or maybe not; my parents may have planned it that way) in New York for the 4th of July. We had the opportunity to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island that day. We visited the Statue of Liberty first; the only thing I remember about the Statue of Liberty is it's a lot smaller in person than it looks on TV. I was a little underwhelmed at the experience. I was surprised that Ellis Island had a much bigger impact on me.
Have you ever visited a place where you can sense that millions of people have been there before you--you can almost feel their presence? It might not sound like it makes sense, especially since, technically, everywhere we go on this earth should have that feeling. All I know is that when I walked through those halls, I could feel the people who had arrived there, waiting to be processed and allowed entrance to the country of their dreams. I could feel the excitement, the anxiety, the worry, the despair. It was a deeply profound experience for me--one I've never forgotten. It also made the Statue of Liberty, previously so unimpressive to me, more meaningful. After all, it was the first thing these travelers saw. It was literally a beacon of hope, a promise of freedom, to people who may never have experienced either thing before.
In middle school, we were required to memorize the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus. It was written about the Statue of Liberty and is engraved on a plaque inside the statue.
"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 worldwide 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!'"
I think this poem perfectly sums up the feelings I experienced at Ellis Island.
So, what does this have to do with crafting? The Wood Connection had this replica of the Statue of Liberty, and I bought it, thinking it was a cute, yet different idea for the 4th of July. It wasn't until I finished it that I realized the impact it had on me. Now, every time I look at it, I'm reminded of my experiences at Ellis Island and how proud I am to be a citizen of a country that promises "justice for all."