When I first saw the Statue of Liberty standing proudly across the the Hudson River as it flows into the Bay of New York, I was filled with unexpected emotion. I knew that I would be thrilled beyond measure to actually see the Statue of Liberty. However, what I really saw were the images in my mind of my great-great grandfather arriving from England in the mid 1800s.
The Statue of Liberty had not yet arrived in the United States when my first relative arrived. Most likely, he first arrived at an immigration station located at Castle Garden in the Battery. As the number of immigrants grew larger, Castle Garden was determined to be too small and unprepared to handle so many people. A new immigration station was built on Ellis Island and opened in 1892. The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor in 1885 in 214 crates and was dedicated in 1886.
Pictures of Battery Park in New York City. A wonderful place to view the Statue of Liberty across the water.
Arriving from the Port of Liverpool in England, my great-great grandfather was not greeted by seeing the Statue of Liberty or the hopefully organized and professional atmosphere of Ellis Island. However, I can only imagine his excitement, his fear, his plans for the future, his expectations. My great-great grandfather was the first to arrive. He was in his very early twenties. So young…and I think…so brave.
Paintings of early immigrants to New York City.
That is why I felt such a surge of emotion to be looking directly at the Statue of Liberty. We were in New York City for a wedding, but we had a few days to take some sightseeing tours. We booked a Circle Line afternoon cruise to get a closer look at the statue and other sights along the river.
Honestly, I was like a child at a birthday party even when we were waiting in line to board. Our daughter thought that I had lost my mind. Upon boarding, we realized that our tour was full of an equally excited tourist group from Japan. I fit right in with them and started talking with the group sitting near us almost immediately…of course, I had to get to know them.
As we moved closer and closer to the statue, every single person in the tourist group from Japan stood up and started singing America the Beautiful! What a truly memorable moment! I was impressed that they knew the song… one of my favorites. There were so many people standing up that I was worried about the safety. But…who can worry at a time like this?
So…I stood up too and started singing the song. Our daughter was totally embarrassed and told me to sit down right away since I was certainly not part of the tourist group. The look of distress was evident on her face and almost enough to cause me to chuckle, but I held myself back. She was just too young to grasp the importance.
Today…she would understand the implication of a group from Japan standing up and singing American the Beautiful. She would understand the implication of a group from Japan taking pictures of the Statue of Liberty. She would understand the implication of a group from Japan being proud to be actually seeing such a grand representation of freedom.