Amidst Turmoil Abroad, Statue of Liberty Reminds us to Have Hope this Thanksgiving24 Nov 2015
As we approach Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season, millions of Americans are looking forward to spending time with friends and family, enjoying food, drink, and festivities, and reflecting on the past year while looking forward to a new one. This time of year is meant for us to cherish those closest to us, to give to those who are less fortunate, and to enjoy all of our blessings with a sense of humility and gratitude. It is a time to celebrate the righteous side of the human spirit – what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” Yet it may be challenging for us to embrace this holiday season with a feeling of optimism about mankind when recent events have shown that much of the world is in turmoil. The deadly terrorist attacks in France, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Mali last week, as well as in Kenya and elsewhere around the globe during the past year, have made it all too clear how hatred, fear, and violence can infect the human heart and mind, with devastating consequences.
So how can we remind ourselves to celebrate the season with a sense of peace and brotherhood when that seems to be so sorely lacking in the world right now? We need only look to the universal icon of freedom, hope, and democracy living on the shores of Ellis Island – the Statue of Liberty. Erected in 1886, she was a gift to America from the people of France to commemorate the alliance of the two countries during the American Revolution, and to (belatedly) mark our nation’s first centennial.
Named Liberty Enlightening the World, the statue served as a symbol of hope to the United States as this country was emerging from the dark days of the Civil War and the fight to abolish slavery. ‘Lady Liberty,‘ as she is often affectionately called, also represented a beacon of liberty for France, which was then struggling to become a democracy. Later on, the statue became an icon to immigrants arriving to the U.S. at Ellis Island to pursue the American dream. Now, as Paris is reeling from the deadly terrorist attacks inflicted on its people last week, the Statue of Liberty takes on a whole new meaning. We look to her as a representation of our sense of solidarity with France, and use this timeless symbol as a reminder that humankind can overcome immense struggles, shed light into the darkest corners, and persevere to a brighter future. [See The French Connection, Statue of Liberty, The National Park Service, and Statue of Liberty, on MurthyDotCom.]
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