"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-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
That is the most iconic quote of one of the most inspirational feminine symbols of our time to represent what is not only good about humanity, but of America as well. She stands for us all to remind us exactly what this country was founded on. Dreams. The freedom to dream what we wanted to dream, to be whatever we wanted to be, to live a life we wanted to have, and to make those choices as we wanted to choose. It was so that we could do it without persecution, without fear of being punished, and without dying in order to simply survive. No one cared who were without food or shelter; they only cared about themselves, and how much money they could make off of the less fortunate. Those were dark times, but then through the mist of night came a beacon. And that beacon was hope.
When early Americans came to these shores of Ellis Island, they looked to Lady Liberty with hope in their hearts for a better life. America had been established by then as the land of opportunity, and between 1892 to 1954, twelve-million arrived and were processed; spreading across her lands with more than ten-million leaving from nearby Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal to embark on the journey to a new and better life. They didn't come without purpose, and they didn't come without the basic skill set for survival; what they did bring was trade skills of blacksmithing, farming, carpentry, seam-stressing, cooks, barbers, merchants, butchers, school teachers, physicians, businessmen, inventors, etc. Anyone and everyone that came to this country brought something to share with others, including: barter, trade, and construction. But the biggest thing they brought with them is something that only it could give life to; and that is their dreams.
Time has forgotten that this country was founded solely on the hopes and dreams of those believing in a better future for themselves and their families. Today those dreams have blossomed into a wide array of weeds and diseases. Why such a dark metaphor for today's culture, you ask? Weeds choke out the necessary foliage that needs to grow deep roots in order to bloom big and beautiful. Without those strong roots and powerful medicine in which we need to survive, we cannot protect ourselves from those radicals who wish to stomp us out of existence. These powerful herbs give us the very oxygen that we breathe and prevent the spread of infection; yet those diseases are there waiting to destroy us with their vials of false pretenses and medicine. Those who not only spread the toxins breed the toxins, causing us more harm than good, and causing our own bodies and minds to work against us. What happened to the freedom of growing our own sustaining foods, culture, and beliefs? Why are we left with only the options that are allotted to us? Are we truly free living in our own homes? Are we truly brave enough to think and do as our ancestors did before us? Perhaps it is our distractions that have caused us to forget. Or is that what they have intended?
Today is the day when we should put aside our differences. We should look not at each other for answers, but inward to ourselves for questions. Ask yourselves why and the answer should come to you. It's not your parents, your siblings, aunts, uncles, or grandparents who have the answers, and don't look to your neighbor or social media for the right answers. Those only exist within you and you alone. Reach deep within your heart and the deepest parts of your mind; truthfully, the answer has been there all along within you. And once you have that answer, ask yourself one more question. What do I believe in? Above all else, you need to believe in yourself. Once you have faith in yourself, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. You can make a difference for yourself and for everyone else around you. Let yourself become enveloped by positive energy and it will attract others who have opened their minds to something more powerful than anything they've ever believed in. And I believe you can do it. Each and every one of you have a gift. Find it and the world is at your feet. Ignore it and be destitute; a slave to your own mind, and a chance for disease to disable your body. It doesn't matter what you believe, who you are, the voices you make, what others perceive of you, or what you look like; the pain and negativity of others will find you if you do not protect yourself with the belief that you have the power to make it go away. You do not have to be susceptible to their poison; you have the cure within you, and you alone will be able to harvest the antidote from within.
Now it is our hopes and dreams that keep us going every day. It wills us to survive, gives us life, and allows for us to enjoy the fruits of our success. Nothing comes without its price, but if you work hard, you can make your dreams come true, and allow hope to thrive. Lady Liberty stands on Ellis Island to remind us all of what she represents; so remember the next time you feel lost in the darkness, look towards her light, listen to her words, and learn from our forefathers past.
Take this as you will, but remember one thing... This is your life to live, so make it count, and always dream big.