A poem by Emma Lazarus,
graven on a tablet
within the pedestal on which
the Statue of Liberty
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!"
Our country has a history of serving others where it is needed. A history of rushing to the aid of those struggling and in need of rescue.
But our dear country has a terrible legacy of overlooking those who need it the most: Those within its very walls.
The huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of our teeming shore.
These are the ones who have been overlooked. These are the ones within the confines of the hell that is what New Orleans has become.
But it has not just started here.
These are the ones who have been overlooked and forgotten for generations. The very sense of compassion and acceptance and freedom our country was founded on has been somehow lost along the way.
The tired are ridiculed and cajoled into working themselves beyond the means their bodies will allow. The mothers working several jobs with little time to spend raising their children or even to rest.
The poor are made to feel worthless, ungrateful, unworthy and expendable - so many never have the opportunity to crawl their way out of the poverty their families have known for generations. And the ones who do become the tired.
The huddled masses wait, desperately praying for someone to come to their aid. So often that wait is just too long.
The wretched refuse? This was meant to mean those who came from impoverished or suppressed countries, and who came here to search for a better life. Some are given much, but so many still live under conditions they sought to escape from in their homelands.
The homeless are ignored and passed by on the street with little more than an annoyed glance in their general direction.
And the tempest-tossed wait - starving, in pain, terrified, dying - for beaurocrats to wade through their oceans of red tape, and praying their invalid relatives and helpless children survive long enough to receive the aid that's promised them.
And then we call them ungrateful.