We were herded onto the ferry. Hundreds of smelly people jostled, pushed and fought for a seat, then for a view. Completely exhausted from our red eye flight, I had little patience for the crowd around me and wondered how the experience could be worth it. Upon reaching THE statue, the lines were hours long to go through security just to get in the base. As I stood awaiting my turn I marveled at my companions. In front of me was an Iranian family wearing head scarves. Behind was an Indian family with flowing scarves and red forehead dots. I made it a game to find an English speaking group somewhere in line. I finally found a Jr. High group. Germans, French, Armenian, Brazilian... endless nationalities crowded in anticipation to see the statue. Where were my fellow Americans? Recalling the crowd of the boat then watching the grateful eyes in the multi national and lingual lines, I could picture easily the boats filled with immigrants who waited patiently for days outside Ellis island hoping for asylum. By the time I reached the inner statue, my heart was full. The immigrants had faces for me. When I read the plaque on Lady Liberty, I wept.
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-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"