“Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses”: AKA Your Ancestors

3 Apr

The trip had been long and hard. There was a lot of sickness. The cold went right to your bones and stayed there like a vicious rumor.

By the time they were mid-ocean there were no more young faces. They carried their history on their backs. Constant battles recorded in tatters of clothing. Hidden eyes and tight lips. Wild hair and broken English.

Terror came easily and laughter came hard.

But like a miracle the day came for the ship to dock. And it did. As brilliantly as a sunrise.

Then they waited. Through the pokes, prods and fingers thrust rudely into open mouths. Through monotonous questions in a language they barely grasped. They only understood feeding chickens, working with leather and a fear that they could almost taste.

A few more questions and one last poke. Then as if a great plague had been cured they were through. Mighty trumpets and a celestial choir. The end of a long dark night.

Everyone would point and call them “filthy immigrants”. But they weren’t. They were Americans.

One Response to ““Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses”: AKA Your Ancestors”

  1. SiouxP April 5, 2012 at 9:04 PM #

    Beautiful Bill. My paternal grandparents sailed from Ireland. My Mother sailed from post-war England on a troop ship and into a life completely different from everything she had known. Two years later she would fly back to London from New York (Chicago didn’t have international flights then). She did this with a six month old baby in tow. I had my 1st birthday there. Another year and my mother returned to my Father & Chicago, but, sadly, it was never home. Love, Sioux

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