By: Robert Scott
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser
One of the so-called Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was the 100-foot high statue of the Greek sun god Helios, erected to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over the ruler of Cyprus in the Fourth Century BC. This “Colossus of Rhodes” only stood for 54 years before it was destroyed by an earthquake; it was never rebuilt. Its size was about the same as the Statue of Liberty, and was the referent in a poem entitled “The New Colossus,” written by Emma Lazarus.
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!”
That sonnet is inscribed in a tablet within the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands, on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Millions of new Americans, seeking asylum or just a new beginning and an escape from poverty, passed by that statue and served both as the inspiration and the result of the national pride and unique tradition we have in the United States as the “Land of Immigrants.” We have never rejected immigrants for being poor, or for needing help once they arrived; we have never required those seeking to become Americans to be able to “stand on their own two feet or don’t bother to come.” But that is what the Trump administration is now requiring of current immigrants, even legal immigrants seeking work permits once here. That is wrong, it is in the most fundamental sense un-American, and it is not the way to “Make America Great Again.”
Many of my own forebears arrived on this continent among those best described as “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Whether they did so before or after the Statue of Liberty was constructed, I am certain that is true of most of us nationwide as well as here in Edgefield County. That is who we are. Let us all work — and vote – to keep this national tradition, and to continue to build our nation on the wonderful ideals of “The New Colossus.”