Saturday, July 4, 2009

Statue of Liberty's Crown: Happy Birthday, America

The Statue of Liberty, in New York City's harbor, would be an impressive piece of weathered copper by itself. Lady Liberty, including the torch, stands an inch short of 152 feet tall. It's 305 feet, six inches, from the pedestal's foundation to the top of the torch.

It's been standing in New York Harbor since the 1880s.

And, since the September 11, 2001, attack, the crown has been closed to visitors. That wasn't the first time that an act of terrorism affected access to the Statue of Liberty. A saboteur set off a bomb in 1916, and the torch has been off limits to the public ever since.

Today, almost 10 years after 9/11, visitors are in the crown again.
"...'On July 4th, we are giving America a special gift,' [Secretary of the Interior Ken] Salazar said. 'We are once again inviting the public to celebrate our great nation and the hope and opportunity it symbolizes by climbing to Lady Liberty’s crown for a unique view of New York Harbor, where the forbearers of millions of American families first saw the new world.'..." (National Park Service)
The Statue of Liberty is special in large part because it's near Ellis Island, and was often the first sight immigrants had of their new country. And yes, I know: Ellis Island didn't provide an ideal welcome to America's citizens-to-be.

I'll freely admit that America isn't perfect. But I've lived here all my life, and don't plan to move. That's a reasoned conclusion, not a fond sentiment. I took a serious look at my options, a few decades back, and came to the conclusion that, occasionally maddening as it was, there wasn't a better place on Earth - for me, at any rate.

It's been that way for over two centuries now. America has been a country run by human beings: with all the blunders and occasional ill will that goes with it. But it's also a place that, over the centuries, has been better than many alternatives.

My family history doesn't record motives for everyone, but it's a safe assumption that many of my ancestors came to America because they thought they could do better here than in the old country. Some came because they'd be free to practice their religion here. And one member of the family came because she'd joined a friend on an ocean cruise, got violently seasick, and couldn't stand the thought of another ocean voyage.

I think it's significant that America is a country people are trying to get into, not out of. (June 20, 2009)

And, I'm glad to see new faces in America - and Minnesota, where I live. On a trivial level, it means having a wider variety of food available in the grocery: there's a modest tract of shelving devoted to Mexican cookery, a few blocks south of my home. More importantly, America is getting people with a fresh look at the world, and a determination to achieve goals that's strong enough to bring them from their homelands to a foreign country.

Sure, many of them are 'just' working in poultry plants. (December 4, 2008) Most of my ancestors were laborers and farmers for the first generation or so: it's not at all uncommon for people to get jobs that don't require refined language skills, until their English gets up to speed.

Not all immigrants have the agricultural equivalent of hamburger-flipper jobs, of course. For example, some own and operate small businesses. (July 3, 2009) Whatever the newest Americans bring with them, I think we'll all benefit as American culture gets aerated by new ideas.

More-or-less related posts: In the news: Background:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.