paying final respects

From her solitary island abode
we believe she spoke assuredly of the people passing before her,

“They will never abandon me,
because I am offering them freedom.
They will never reject me
because I am showing them kindness.

They will never revile me
because I open my arms to all of them –
the Jews, the Catholics, the Germans,
the Irish, the Italians, then the Muslims,
blacks, browns, Asians and Hindu –
none are excluded.

They will never persecute me
because I extend  mercy to all.
They will never despise me
because in their time of need I welcome them equally.

They will never forget me because they stand before me
as the abandoned, rejected, reviled, persecuted, despised
refugee and immigrant refuse from other shores.”

Sadly many years have passed, America’s people have forgotten
from whence they arrived.
Generations have prospered and they, today’s empowered ones,
today’s angry and disillusioned,
today’s wealthy and privileged
look upon our Lady with scorn and derision.
They dishonor the words which have accompanied forever
her island’s welcoming message.

Thus they reject Lady Liberty standing forlorn on her island in the harbor:

“We disown you because you are not today’s American spirit.
Our nation is full, we have no more room.
Your comforting words to immigrants and refugees
are not meant for those on our borders today,
your justice is no longer revered,
your welcome is no longer our voice.
Your words are dead,
cold,
a vestige of an America which has passed.
We no longer need nor want you as our beacon.”

picture6
She sinks into the harbor – just a memory to those of us who have loved and cherished her beacon of hope, her burning torch, welcoming all people regardless of race, creed or nationality.  But, she is not flesh or blood like us, she is spirit and she will resurrect when America’s people once again deserve her charity and blessing.

Until then, may a gracious God find reason to redeem a thankless people.

 

The New Colossus

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!”

EMMA LAZARUS

ROOTS

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.

beard-beggar-face-35015

Do you know your roots?  In 1976 I began a project which lasted several years researching the family tree.  Fortunately, my family had lived in the region comprising Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, since before the Revolutionary War.  Equally fortunate was the fact that all the old county records were stored at the courthouse in the basement which in colonial times served as the county jail.  Nothing yet was transferred to digital and we amateur genealogists were allowed into the dungeon to do our research from the written transcripts.  It was dank and musty down there in the numerous jail cells and it was not difficult to imagine prisoners scurrying about amongst the multitude of books containing wills, land deeds and orphan’s court records.  For treasure hunters like myself the time spent there was an adventure through days long past.

I don’t believe I fully appreciated the convenience of all my family history being in one courthouse and one library within 30 miles of my home.  My maternal Snyder side of the family changed the spelling from Schneider in the 1860s to 1880s.  The Browns migrated from Europe as Brauns in the late 1700s.  Himmel’s Church in Rebuck, Pennsylvania, is the resting place of my forefathers, Schneiders and Brauns, with headstones among the very first of the burial plots in the church cemetery.  Himmel’s was founded in 1773.

Our Germanic community lived in relative isolation in the Schwaben Creek Valley of central Pennsylvania having settled there from Berks County, Pennsylvania, in the mid 1700s.  The Pennsylvania Dutch which was spoken was called “low German” in contrast to written German which was referred to as “high German”.  There are similarities, but centuries of geographic separation from the mother country made it difficult to read the Bibles which were written in high or “hoch” German.  Many of the words were vastly unrecognizable.  My grandparents did not learn English until entering school.  I was not encouraged to learn the Dutch dialect as it was considered too common, but I understood when family members and neighbors spoke in Dutch.

Further stories of an early migration to America in the 1600s by my people is interesting but I was never able to verify the accounts written in volumes by local historians.  We knew for certain that my ancestors escaped religious and social persecution in lands that are now Germany, that they fled to England and from there indentured themselves to landowners in the ‘new world’.

My people did not immigrate to America because they were weary of the wonderful life they  were having in their native lands.   They did not come here to take advantage of native inhabitants.  They came here because they had nothing and were willing to sacrifice their nothingness for hope in a new land.  They did not speak the predominant English language, did not bow to the predominant God, and did not have any assurance of a better life.  All they wanted was to start anew in peaceful observance of their traditions and heritage, to raise families without fear of persecution, and to share the bounty of a new beginning.

Sounds like some other immigrants about whom we hear today.  My people did not have a statue in New York Harbor to welcome them with a torch and encouraging words, but when others followed their footsteps, I am sure they said,  “Welcome neighbor, we have plenty to share.  Enjoy the bounty with us which the good Lord has provided.”

Yes, I know they would have said that.  That’s who we were back then and that’s who we are now.

“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.”  Emma Lazarus – THE NEW COLOSSUS 

Our words are perhaps not as eloquent, but Emma Lazarus speaks to who we are.  We have been in the shoes of the homeless and tempest-tost and we will remember.

Picture6

%d bloggers like this: