The New Colossus, 9/11


There will be a lot of speeches and heartfelt statements today. For 15 years, America and the world have commemorated the loss of life that happened on this day. Sometimes, though, the best reminders come from what has already been said. On September 11, 2001, America was attacked. But since then, we as a people have stood up for what made our country great. As we remember those who died and those who saved lives on that day, we also remember what America stands for.

The poem that is engraved on the Statue of Liberty in New York is as relevant today as it was when it first was written. It’s author, Emma Lazarus, was born into a Jewish family who had immigrated to the United States from Germany. She was born in New York and is buried in Brooklyn. When the Statue of Liberty opened in 1883, her sonnet was not famous. It wasn’t until 1903 that a plaque bearing the poem was put on the pedestal of the famous statue.

The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus, 1883

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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


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