The Statue of Liberty and What She Represents…

Statue of Liberty

I remember the time when I was in elementary school (seems like eons ago…) and we were studying the Statue of Liberty. I recall that it was near the end of the school year, sometime in early June. I guess it was a prelude to the Fourth of July. I will admit that while I have never personally visited this “great lady,” there were times when I could observe her from a short distance.
We studied the words inscribed at her base. I was personally moved by them, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…1 Suffice it to say that I hold what she represents in the highest regard.
It brings me great shame to see these words, seemingly disregarded in this current day and age. I know we are inherently better than this!
I would suggest that we all do a little research pertaining to the Statue of Liberty, her origin and what she represents. Please look at it in the context of today’s events.
I see the results of people trying to relieve their suffering and pursue a better life and I wonder… How will we be judged for these events? Our personal interventions bring Surah 99, Ayats 6-8 to mind,

On That Day, people shall come forth in groups to be shown their deeds.

So, whoever has done an atom’s weight of good shall behold it.

And whoever has done an atom’s weight of evil shall behold it.

When our symbol of liberty loses meaning, can America be far behind? This really worries me! I pray that this does not happen…

Migrants 1

(Recent photo of bodies of Salvadoran migrant Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria. They attempted to reach U.S. soil., Credit Julia Le Duc/Associated Press 2019)

A young migrant, who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, lies on the shore in the Turkish coastal town of Bodrum

(three-year-old Alan Kurdi on the shore of Turkey, 2015)

migrants 3

(Up to 70 Ethiopian migrants drowned off the Yemeni coast, 2014)

migrants 4

(Border Patrol Agent Brady Waikel rescues a 7-year-old boy from Honduras after he fell out of a makeshift raft crossing the Rio Grande River near Eagle Pass, Texas, on May 10, 2019. Bob Owen / The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

1The New Colossus

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-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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Fathers…

 

On this day, I choose to remember Fathers. There is a myriad of comments and memories of Fathers, both good and bad, depending on who you ask and what time of day it is.

 

Many of us are called “Dad” or “Father” or some variation thereof. Others have the distinction of being called “Pop” or “Poppy.” I tend to be among the latter group, but this story is not necessarily about me. It is about my selective memories of him.

 

I never really knew my birth father but there was a man that in time I would choose to call Father. He inspired me, he guided me and influenced me in so many ways that I cannot recall all of them.

 

He was the first entrepreneur that I ever encountered! He had a potato chip franchise with Frito Lay and he regularly “conscripted” me to join him as he sold its products to delis, supermarkets, and bodegas throughout New York City. I learned how to greet people with a smile and a gesture of friendship. Whether it was “Que pasa, amigo” or “As salaamu aleikum” or “Shalom” these salutations all came from observations of him interacting with people in the quest to transact business and later influenced me in how I would choose to deal with people.

 

There was that extremely noteworthy spanking or “whupping” that he administered.  It deterred me from a future life of crime and directed me to pursue academic excellence at such places as Brooklyn Technical High School, Cornell University and Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

 

My introduction to the martial arts at Jerome Mackey’s Judo Inc. was largely due to his assistance. This served as the seed which would begin to cultivate my interest in Tai Chi Chuan, Kung Fu, and Kendo.

 

He gave me my first car, that 1967 red Pontiac Firebird Convertible with the rebuilt, 383 cubic inch Bonneville engine. I vividly remember cruising up to Cornell on route 79, convertible top down, listening to the Delfonics playing in my cassette deck and me trying to sing in a falsetto voice. I have yet to see a 1970s nostalgia movie portraying a scene such as this but I remain hopeful…

67 Firebird

My interest in pursuing good dietary habits stemmed for an early reading of “How to Eat to Live,” by Elijah Muhammad. My father was not Muslim but he was knowledgable regarding how to live a good life, music, classical and jazz, health and the history of slavery and how it altered our African cultural traditions. Truly, he was his own man as I continually strive to be…

 

Finally, there was the dreaded stroke which subsequently took his life. I was on a business-related ski trip to Vermont when I received a call regarding his condition. I rushed to Brooklyn, New York as fast as humanly possible in the midst of an enduring New England snowstorm.

 

There was nothing that I could do. He just laid there peacefully on life support while those of us present debated whether to disconnect the machine. He had trained me to make decisions when others may falter. In the midst of our moment of indecisiveness, he just drifted off with no help from any of us present…

 

This man will forever be remembered by me and he is forever in my prayers! He gave a song that I used to like so much more significance, Leon Thomas’ rendition of “Song for My Father.”

 

Leon Thomas: Song for My Father – Lyrics1

If there was ever a man
Who was generous, gracious and good
That was my dad
The man
A human being so true
He could live like a king
‘Cause he knew
The real pleasure in life
To be devoted to
And always stand by me
So I’d be unafraid and free
If there was ever a man
Who was generous, gracious and good
That was my dad
The man
A human being so true
He could live like a king
‘Cause he knew
The real pleasure in life
To be devoted to
And always stand by me
So I’d be unafraid and free
If there was ever a man
Who was generous, gracious and good
That was my dad
The man, The man
1http://www.allworldlyrics.com/2017/testi-canzoni/leon-thomas-song-for-my-father/