I grew up in the small town of Wabeno, Wisconsin. My earliest memories there are of wooden sidewalks and hitching posts. We had a consolidated school district that drew from half of the county as well as parts of the county south of us. Among other things we learned citizenship and U. S. History. I remember learning this poem and what it meant to the vast majority of the people in this country. My teachers emphasized that Americans were people from all other countries and the road they traveled to get to this country was littered with the bodies of those who were somehow prevented from getting here, often by the leaders of their original country. It is a tragedy that today’s Americans are not taught the same respect for our immigrants.
A poem by Emma Lazarus is graven on a tablet within the pedestal on which the statue stands.
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!”
Apparently to many of today’s Americans this poem has no meaning at all.