“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)
Of all the symbols that accompany the Fourth of July, none reaches closer into the hearts of Americans than that of the Statue of Liberty. She was a gift to the American people from France, but it almost didn’t happen. She took years to design and build, meanwhile, fundraising efforts for the project were interrupted by wars and financial panics on both sides of the ocean. The contributions came through, often one dollar at a time, and through perseverance and a commitment to complete the project, she was finally dedicated October 28, 1886. At 305 feet above Liberty Island in New York Harbor, she has stood as a beacon of hope, liberty and freedom for 125 years. While looking outward welcoming millions to this land, equally as important, yet rarely mentioned, is another symbol in what lies at her feet; a broken chain. Notice had been given to governments around the world that the chains of oppression had been forever broken. Men and women yearning to be free left their homelands and started new futures for their families in America. Often with just a few dollars in their pockets, their very first glimpse of America was that statue. On the lower levels of those ships were young families like the Tuccillos, the Espositos, the Valentinos, the Patetes and the Serios.
On this, the fourth day of July in 2012, two of the great-grandchildren of those immigrants came to the very spot that marked the beginning of their American roots… the Statue of Liberty.
Here’s an audio clip from the open of a previous Food Nation Radio Network show broadcast live from New York City: