“When I saw the statue of Liberty tears ran down my face,” recalls Eva Zeisel, “because I knew I was home.”
Eva Zeisel is a world famous pottery artist commissioned by the Soviet Union to create that states official pottery and dinnerware in the early part of the 20th century. Later for reasons that were never fully explained to her, (the official charge was ‘plotting to assassinate Stalin) she was jailed for 16 months by her previous benefactors. She was just as inexplicably released, and she immigrated to Germany at a time when Hitler was consolidating his power. Zeisel, a Jew, saw the danger, and quickly got out of Germany. After briefly living in England, she immigrated to the United States.
So there she was entering America, a country she never before set foot in, and in her mind she had come home. This notion of being comfortable in this country for even the newest émigrés is not at all unique. My own mother’s recollection of entering New York Harbor revealed that magical, almost instant, bond these émigrés feel for their new country.
We may ponder this affinity for the new country that was known to our ancestors. Those of us who were born here can only imagine the experience of abandoning a homeland that has let them down. People left their villages, family, friends and all that was familiar to them. In many cases, perhaps most cases, the new country, America, was hostile. As hostile as it may have been, they knew they had a better chance here than where they had come from.
It’s about freedom. It was about freedom then, and it still is today. Safety, and security, are extremely important conditions, but the great elixir is freedom. If we trade our sacred freedoms for a promise of safety from the state, it is indeed a sorry trade. In the final analyses the state can never guarantee our safety, but state after state has been successful in robbing their populations of this precious concept of personal freedoms. Remove freedom, and all else you make available to the people is but a trinket
In keeping with the spirit of a patriotic 4th of July, here is a verse my mother repeated often;
Be there a man with soul so dead?
Who never to himself hath said
This is my home, my native land
I can assure you, she meant America