As Independence Day draws near, a recent visit that my family and I made to New York has made me feel even more grateful for the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness we have in America. These images of freedom and bravery were all around us.
Statue of Liberty
The ferry we took from Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island was at capacity with nearly 500 people filing on board to find their seat on benches or along the decks. They seemed to be of every age and ethnicity. When the ferry approached the Statue, the crowd became quieter as this icon of freedom towered and its magnitude took hold. Since 1886, it has served as a most welcomed sight to immigrants and visitors to this great land.
Ellis Island – Registry Room
Ellis Island is where the long journey ended and a new life began for millions of immigrants, between 1892 and 1924. It was here in the Main Building’s Registry Room where third and fourth class passengers were met by inspectors. Pauline Notkoff, a Polish Jewish immigrant arriving in 1917 shared one such encounter in a 1985 interview for the Ellis Island Museum. “They asked us questions. ‘How much is two and one. How much is two and two? But the next young girl, also from our city, went and they asked her, ‘How do you wash stairs, from the top or from the bottom?’ She says, ‘I don’t go to America to wash stairs.’” Continue reading