Photo: Pascal Nuovo (Wikimedia)

After the events of 9/11 our nation experienced a rebirth of patriotism and a new embrace of the symbols of democracy. One such symbol, the Statue of Liberty, gave us deep comfort as she stood stolid and strong at the entrance to the harbor of a majestic, wounded and grieving city. She was seen as protector and mother both.

The Statue of Liberty was conceived not as a mother figure, but as a symbol of a worldwide embrace of leadership by citizen consent. It was only after Emma Lazarus died that her poem (which had been the only one read at the Statue’s dedication) was installed at the Lady’s base, redefining her forever as a mother figure welcoming and embracing all who sought solace on our shores.

What better poem for this Friday than The New Colossus? What better way for Women’s Voices to say women are indeed mighty and, further. the keepers of compassion and meaning in both good and terrible times?

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

— Emma Lazarus, 1883

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  • Patricia Moscatello September 9, 2011 at 11:09 am

    As I read the article and poem aloud to my Husband, this morning, my voice cracked and tears streamed down my face. Thoughts of her reason for being and memories of that fateful day 10 years ago will always be etched in my base. I pray,this year’s remembrance at the new memorial fountains will bring peace to all those souls lost on that September 11th morning.