This is my favorite picture Krista took of the Statue of Liberty. I've never seen one like it. It looks like Lady Liberty is striding through the forest, and we've happened upon her as we, too, journeyed through the woods.
I found our time on Liberty Island inspiring. I loved seeing the people from many countries taking their pictures with the Statue. Reading the history of the statue and listening to the audio tour was amazing, too. The way the French people came together to raise money for this gift to us, and then the Americans rallying to raise the money to build the pedestal was fascinating. I was struck by how this one piece of art required people from multiple countries, artists, architects, writers and others to come together and say, "Liberty and freedom for all people matters, and it should be the first thing people think of when they arrive in the United States."
The power of art to change lives and culture was a theme of our time in NYC, whether it was seeing the Canadian woman who has memorized every last bit of Wicked, or learning the history of the Statue of Liberty and hearing people on the audio tour talk about how they wept when they saw that great green monolith rising ahead of them, or seeing the memorial plates on the side of the fire department by the World Trade Center site.
The freedoms available to us in this country -- particularly the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech -- are things we should cherish and honor. Many in the world desire to come here to have a chance at that. One of the things that struck both Krista and I during our time at Ellis Island was how many of our immigration laws historically have been driven by racism and selfishness.
Last year we spoke with an immigrant from Mexico at our church. He told us, "Before we came to the United States, my children were hungry all the time. Now we have food to eat." That's the American dream right there, my friends. Many of our parents and grandparents came to this country to escape religious or political persecution, to climb out of the slow starvation of poverty, to find a place where they would have a chance to feed their families and be treated as equals. I'm all for us giving future generations a chance... and doing our best to make the United States a country defined by liberty and justice for all.
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