Saturday, April 18, 2009

America! My America! How I Do Love Thee.......

As the mass of immigrants approached the statue in the New York Harbor, smiles spread across their wretched lifeless faces and they raised their voices in unison "America." "America!" For the newcomers the American Dream was finally at hand. Suddenly the atmosphere aboard the vessel became electrified. The immigrants -whatever their nationality or religion-- embraced each other, hugging and kissing as they danced with joy. Gone were the saddened faces, heavy hearts and feelings of regret. Tears flowed in abundance, while many fell to their knees kissing the floor of the vessel. Throughout the entire deck, hands raised to the heavens could be seen, as prayers of gratitude were uttered in various tongues, for their safe arrival. For the first time, in that single miraculous moment, the mass of immigrants became of one mind, soul and spirit. Whatever awaited them, it had to be better than what they had left behind.

I would like you to stop and think about this for a moment. America has always been a safe haven for many who have suffered in their countries tremendous hardships, Wars, calamities generating poverty, racial prejudices, religious persecution, and political oppression.

Centuries ago, a great mass of emigrants from various origins left their places of birth in pursuit of the "American Dream", which symbolized for them democracy, equality, liberty, justice and most of all material well-being. "The American Dream" a term first used by James Truslow Adams in his book the Epic of America, written in 1931 is stated as such: "The American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." (1)

For millions of immigrants, the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor was their first glimpse of America. Lady Liberty, " Enlightening the World," was a symbol of democracy, of freedom of expression and religious beliefs.

America has always been viewed as a country of opportunity. Ours is a nation built on immigration. Its mixture of culture, races and languages combined to make us the great, diverse and respected nation that we are today. Our remarkable democratic structure has been contributed to this diversity. We depend on each other.

Our early ancestors, in pursuit of the American Dream and the "Hope" that it inspired, dared to explore new horizons, freedom of choices and action , enduring great injustices, inhumanities, and severe hardships, as they were woven into the texture of the American life. Often stereotyped and discriminated against, they suffered verbal and physical abuse because they were "different." Yet, undaunted by poverty, illiteracy , discrimination and discouragement, they sacrificed and toiled incessantly making major contributions to the economic strength of America and to a richer cultural diversity in the field of arts, music, education, language and cuisine. The new image created out of the foreign wilderness helped mold and maintain the enterprise system that has made America what it is today, the financial center of the World. Whether they worked on the farms, in the factories, building railroads, bridges, towns and cities, their rewards were greater than any land could ever offer... America is a nation among all nations. A nation where every citizen enjoys his or her freedom especially in the area of choice and opportunity, in comparison with the restricted freedom found in other countries. Now centuries later, America is still providing this same freedom and opportunities that our ancestors pursued, in whose footsteps we follow. The American Dream is still ours to embrace.

Our forefathers had great courage, faith and hope in maintaining the right mental attitude in the midst of such negative external forces. Their example should be an inspiration to all of us. I believe we can also learn some lessons from them. With courage and faith we will mentally prepare ourselves, to be able to control and cope with today which will help us to find solace in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Today is our chance to lay a good foundation for tomorrow. Let’s set our feet firmly on this path of Faith and Hope and get ready to walk through extraordinary times for we are more than conquerors, not quitters.

America! Now is the time to roll up our sleeves, and get tough. Be a witness to the wonders that life will provide. Yes we can and we will overcome!

Miriam Medina is the author of this essay.

Photo Credit: Welcome To The Land of Freedom 1887 Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA LC-USZC2-1255

(1)The Library of Congress: "What is the American Dream?"

To contact:

No comments: