Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ellis Island And The Statue Of Liberty

Hard to stand at the base of the statue and not feel its gravity. The torch is not of a burning fire, but one of illumination and enlightenment.
In addition to having fun in NYC of the wax museum sort, we also had more serious outings -- namely, a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

I was moved visiting the statue as there were people there from many parts foreign, gawking, remarking, celebrating all that the statute might stand for. I say might because the audio narration stated that different periods celebrated the statue for different reasons. For example, during WWII the statue became the symbol for war bonds.

Ellis Island was also moving to visit, the sweeping expanse of the main entrance hall easy to imagine crammed full of people. I went to the website of the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation and entered my family name and was able to find 256 instance where people with the exact same last name entered and exited the country. I learned my grandfather had boarded a ship called Europe in 1951, most likely for a vacation.
The second floor of the main building.
I had been told by a relative that the officious clerks often changed the names of the immigrants out of a misplaced desire to create instant Americans. The audio narration maintained that this rarely happened. The clerks usually took the names verbatim from the ships' manifests. Often the immigrants wanted new names for the purpose of starting with a clean slate in a new place. The narration didn't explore the notion that the ships' clerks might have been drunk or just a bunch of wiseasses.

Speaking of which, here it is, your moment of Ellis Island Zen.


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