This I Believe

Murray - W. Hempstead, New York
Entered on January 28, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: immigrant

Give Me Your tired….*

I looked into her face and saw that of my mother and grandmother who both had slipped away from me while I was a youngster. Fanny, my grandmother, came to America from Poland as many Jews did to escape the persecution which predated Hitler. My mother,Yetta, was bed-ridden for most of my recollection and I remember much sadness in her eyes. Her smile was incomplete because of strokes which eventually took her life. They both had passed through Ellis Island into the land of promise. The Lady in The Harbor did not smile for there was much struggle ahead. However, she promised a reward beyond imagination. The face that I saw this morning was that of a Salvadorian woman who was in her 50’s or older.

I knew little of the difficulties which my ancestors had experienced but I imagined it as arduous indeed and I understood the caution with which my father meekly approached life. He must have been lucky because he became a landowner and understood the value of owning real property.

I see many Central Americans in the course of my day for they compose a significant part of my customer base. I have learned to communicate in their language and I can see the pleasure in their faces when a gringo reaches towards them with polite words. They seek to express their cultural heritage and their ethical values.

Just as generations before me acquired a vision of life in America, these many individuals today are living and working examples of the same dream. I see a stepladder with them making great efforts to get beyond the first step. I see my parents and grandparents in a clearer prospective because the struggle is so much the same.

*From The Great Colossus by Emma Lazarus as engraved at the base of The Statue of Liberty on Bedlow’s Island.