I want to talk about an astounding gift. It was given to the United States by France. A statue, named, “Liberty Enlightening the World”, more widely known in the present day as the “Statue of Liberty”. It was placed there in 1886. My great-great-grandfather Carl Fink must have seen the Statue when he arrived by steamship in 1887 from Germany. It faces southeast, the direction of incoming ships. It faces outward to those arriving, not inward to those already here. It represents the principled welcoming of our nation. It is not a barrier or a threat.
There are two texts I want to share. The first is the conclusion of the poem written by Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”, whose words are displayed with the statue:
“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!”
The second is from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:
“You are the Light of the World. A city on a hill cannot be hid.
No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket,
but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works, and give glory to God in heaven.”
I commend both of these texts to you as we strengthen our resolve in troubled times. Let us lift up our light of welcome!