The New Colossus

“The New Colossus,” written in 1883 for an auction to raise funds for the pedestal. The poem was written by Emma Lazarus, a native New Yorker.

‘The New Colossus’, which adorns the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The poem helped to shape the popular idea of the Statue of Liberty as a welcoming mother, and of America as the great nation of immigrants. This view was helped by the fact that the Statue was the first great US landmark that immigrants arriving in the United States would see. Although today we have many wanting to change this history. Don’t allow them too, here is why. ..

It was only after her death, in 1887, that the poem was published. But it would not be until 1945 that the poem would achieve widespread fame, when it was inscribed over the entrance to the Statue of Liberty. Not only this, but France intended for the Statue of Liberty to be propaganda.

The above are the important parts of the history of this poem. You have many stating that the poem meant nothing it was a afterthought. No big deal it was produced, and wasn’t published until after it’s creator died. Then they waited until 1945 before they even inscribed the poem over the entrance to the Statue of Liberty.

But the time period says otherwise. There were two peaks for monuments and this poem was erected during one of them. From the late 1800’s to the early 1950’s people took this stuff seriously. You want to make a statement. You want to represent something. You want to teach. You don’t want anyone to forget. If the above is true then you need to put up a monument and be sure to include some nice words.

So from the 1800’s through the 1950’s monuments sprung up everywhere. The Statue of Liberty had become an iconic symbol of U.S. immigration by the 20th century. Make no mistake everyone knew what the Statue of Liberty stood for. The Washington Monument was erected in 1884 in commemoration of George Washington. Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Completed in 1941 under the direction of Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln. The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American independence, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1753. The Liberty Bell is another icon that had wording that people understood as truth after it was put on a icon. When an inscription on the bell, “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” garnered the attention of abolitionists during the 1830s, the instrument was transformed into an icon of freedom for slaves.

Some of these have engraved wording others don’t but everyone during their time, and even today knew what they stood for. No one guessed what the landmarks were depicting no more than they guessed what the 700 Confederate monuments stood for all over the south. All had wording as well except a few, and no one questioned the words either for decades. Not until 2019 when a select few decided The New Colossus meant nothing, it was just a second thought.

Those years ago the poem was inscribed over the entrance to the Statue of Liberty. Plus the poem itself had meaning that the Author explained. ” France intended for the Statue of Liberty to be propaganda, with the light-bearing female personification of Liberty – that French Revolutionary watchword – symbolizing a beacon of enlightenment for Emma Lazarus those European countries still living under tyranny. But Lazarus twisted this propagandist intention, and her poem ensured that the Statue of Liberty would instead be viewed as a beacon of welcome for immigrants leaving their European mother countries, for the new ‘Mother of Exiles’. “

“The Statue of Liberty was not conceived and sculpted as a symbol of immigration, but it quickly became so as immigrant ships passed under the torch and the shining face, heading toward Ellis Island. However, it was [Lazarus’s poem] that permanently stamped on Miss Liberty the role of unofficial greeter of incoming immigrants.

So this literally meant the readers and those that picked her poem to represent Lady Liberty knew the words were for immigrants and they knew that Lazarus had changed the whole persona from what France intended. They did one more thing that sealed the deal and gave the words even more meaning for everyone that read them. They inscribed the words over the entrance to the Statue of Liberty for all immigrants to see. If they did not mean those words were special, they never ever would of inscribed them for everyone to see over the entrance in the first place. The words were not placed there temporary, they were placed there permanent. They didn’t inscribe anything back in those days unless they wanted to remember, or reflect on the past. Everything they did had purpose and meaning. So don’t allow anyone to lower the meaning of our most prized possession that not only stands for our Country, but stands for everyone that enters it wanting a new country, freedom and life. Allow no one to change the words that Lady Liberty has stood for. Don’t ever forget those words were meant for all of us, and our own heritage and have stood there for 74 years. So stand proud because we are all immigrants. No one alive today has the right to take any part of those words meaning away for political gain. Those words belong to the United States, and those words belong to all of us.

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