Lady Liberty gazed toward Manhattan Island as my husband and I approached Liberty Island on a cruise ship. The boat dipped on waves in the Hudson Bay much like it did a century ago for thousands of immigrants on the completion of a grueling passage to America. In her poem The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus wrote the words "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." These words are engraved on a bronze plaque hanging on the Statue of Liberty Museum. A powerful caveat for a nation based on the principles of the God of the Christians and Jewish people. Incidentally, Emma Lazarus was Jewish. My husband has traveled to Brooklyn on many occasions and had already experienced the Statue of Liberty however this was my first time. I have to tell you, I'm not one of those "proud to be American" types. So much evil comes from the very top of our government and leaks into the cracks of our deteriorating society... an evil with no respecter of persons. Western Culture represents an ideology that personal appearances, money and power are all that matter in this world. For this, I'm ashamed to call the United States my home. This is a place where celebrities and music makers openly brag about their connection with darkness.
However, when we walked around this symbol and watched a video of the wave of immigrants who arrived on this shore between 1880 and 1926, I have to say, I was glad to be American. This land, whether the rest of the world likes it or not, was created to be a sanctuary for the oppressed.
We arrived in Manhattan on Monday afternoon to take our youngest daughter to a company which specializes in aptitude testing. We figured it would give her a great start on deciding which direction she should go in her schooling for the future.
After leaving our teenager at the Johnson O'Connor Foundation (great experience by the way!) we walked to the site of the new "Freedom Tower". This memorial was created from the ashes of the bombings in New York City at the World Trade Center in New York. While hubby and I gaped at this massive building we couldn't help notice the hundreds of foreign speaking visitors also walking around the site. We endured the forty minutes or so wait in the hot sun for our tickets. You have to experience East Coast humidity to really understand what I'm talking about.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum is well worth the investment of time and money. The place is huge so it took us about two hours just to walk through. Displays in the museum showed the sheer magnitude of the steel buildings. Steel girders used to build these modern day marvels were displayed along with the still existing concrete wall built to keep out the water from the Hudson Bay. A sub basement contains evidence of the formidable structures that came down on 9/11. All of this pointed to the amount of force the bombs must have used to take down the towers.
It's tough walking through the evidence of the virtual citadel that remains. But, coming to the end of the museum, while listening to the voices of those who are forever buried behind a wall erected in that museum is well...sobering in the least. And hard to wrap your brain around.
We listened to audio recordings of the victims from the hijacked planes and victims who worked at the world trade center. We saw pictures of shell shocked New Yorkers watch the buildings implode. Equally painful, we were able to see the often bloodied faces of the victims who managed to survive. One recording brought tears to my eyes. "I watched a firefighter walk up the stairs to his death while I continued to walk down the stairs ~to life."
Hearing the transmissions from the rescue workers was a powerful experience. These men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for the chance to possibly save even one person's life. Say what you will about our country. But, as long as their are heroes like these in our midst, redemption will remain.
The next day as our youngest completed her testing, we walked to Battery Park and took a ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island is the facility where the worlds "huddled masses" traveled in steamships to enter into the "promised land". They were given food, a place to sleep and well...an in depth physical examination. If an individual were found to have any signs of illness, he or she was sent packing back on to that ship. They would endure another several weeks to month long trip back to their homeland in the bowels of those ships.
We heard the words of one passenger say he'd rather jump into the water than go back to the country he'd just fled. Statements were made about the process given by the U.S. government to be able to enter this land. Government for many meant tyranny and being treated like property. Many had no idea what they faced when they stepped onto the island with only the clothes on their back and enough currency in their pockets to be considered "pass worthy".
Many families were divided in the process. A torturous situation for those who stayed but still not enough of a deterrent for more refugees to discontinue their efforts to enter this country.
My maternal grandmother came through Ellis Island from Ireland. My father's grandparents arrived from Germany. Both my father-in-law and mother-in-law sailed from Italy and worked in New York for a few years before getting married to settle in Philadelphia.
It's been on my heart for awhile to visit the 9/11 Memorial. I'd heard so many good things about the area, but, truly I just wanted to go to pray. So we did. Hubby and I stood on the ground which was once leveled by two hijacked planes only fourteen years ago. It seems like yesterday because we had just been given the "all clear" for me that I was cancer free that summer. I was still recovering from the shock of fighting cancer when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred. Several months later I was taping a public television program , Kelly's Miracle, sharing how God had healed me from cancer in my liver after only three months time. Interesting to note, the television station is located in Berkley Heights, NJ. This city alone had suffered the loss of 70 people from that fateful day.
So we stood on that renovated ground and we said a simple prayer for the future of our nation from a wonder working God. We prayed that the same God who saw fit to heal me from this horrible disease would also continue to pour out His mercy on the land of the free. In spite of the evil that is being done, in spite of the terrorists attack, we stood before Him and pleaded the blood of Jesus over our land. So many proclamations are being made in the name of God to judge this country. It may sound naïve, but, when we asked God to remove the judgment and curses from this land, I believe He heard us as well as the continual prayers from the people who love Him. God's not done with us yet.
James 2: 1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.