( My book and these blog posts are not written to produce guilt. Rather it is to help Christians and others today to have a realistic understanding of the origins of our Nation and to promote the need for further peacemaking and reconciliation.)
The following is a statement from the website of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island
“The Statue of Liberty is more than a monument. She is a beloved friend, a living symbol of freedom to millions around the world. These exhibits are a tribute to the people who created her, to those who built and paid for her, to the ideals she represents, and to the hopes she inspires.”
This statue was a gift from France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the United States. It was finished in 1886 just over a decade late due to financial shortcomings.
The base of the statue was to be a Fort, Fort Wood, on Ellis Island, with its star-shaped walls. This fort, established during the war of 1812, was chosen as the base for the statue. The United States prepared the base and then France constructed and erected the statue on it.
The statue was modeled after the Colossus of Rhodes in ancient Greece that commemorated victory of the Rhodians against the Antagonids. The statue was erected to honor its patron god Helios and to express their gratitude for the military victory.
The Statue of Liberty faces eastward toward Europe holding high a torch that is said to represent the light of freedom. On a plaque attached to the base of the statue is the famous quote from the poem of Emma Lazarus, written at a fundraiser auction for the statue, titled—“The New Colossus”.
“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!”
Even though this memorial has warmed hearts and inspired the admiration of several generations, it also represents a darker side to America’s history.
The United States needed more people from Europe to come and settle and occupy the land. During the decade of the statue’s construction the United States was pushing and expanding its boundaries westward into more of Indian territory. As the tribes resisted there was much blood shed; this was the period of “Red Cloud’s War,” “Custer’s Last Stand,” “Massacre at Wounded Knee Creek” and many other conflicts, as the tribes fought to protect their homelands.
As the United States removed the Indians they needed more settlers to help fight them and occupy the territories secured by war. Many from the east coast and Europe were lured west by reports from relatives and extensive advertising campaigns.
The ironic truth is, that as the US Government was beckoning Europeans to send their “poor, wretched and homeless” to America, it was creating “poor, wretched and homeless” conditions for its original inhabitants—the Indians.
The liberty enjoyed by the majority culture today was built on the forced loss of liberty by a people who have, for the most part, been forgotten–it cost them their land and their way of life.
Lets remember with a heart of peace and work as peacemakers while there is still light enough to proceed, for a “night is coming when no one can work”. John 9:4
James 3:18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Miigwech Bizandowiyeg (thank you for listening).