DAY TEN: Fourth of July

July the 4th, 2011: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, New York.

I’m an Air Force brat so as you can imagine, I grew up in a very patriotic household. We put out the flag each morning and took it down each evening before sunset. On veterans’ holidays we visited our military cemetery. I choke up every time I hear the national anthem at a football game. So walking up to the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July was no different. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of my Dad, Lt. Col. John H. Stapleton, and other men and women who risked and gave their lives to ensure my freedom.

Although I promised not to do any touristy things while in New York, I agreed with my sister Michele who suggested we spend our Fourth of July visiting the statue. She bought tickets which allowed us to climb to the top, the crown. Three hundred and fifty-four steps later I could hardly breath, but I was glad she’d insisted we do it.

photo of child that came through Ellis Island

Hanging on the walls were large photographs of the many men, women and children who came through the doors of Ellis Island. This young child caught my attention.

But I must say our next stop at Ellis Island was the most moving. All around us I heard German, French, Spanish, Chinese, and other languages I couldn’t identify. For a moment I imagined myself being among fellow immigrants who were in line to be questioned, checked for diseases and processed. Yes, here I was, just like my forefathers, living my dream.

I felt compelled to call my Mom, asking the name of the relative who’d come through the gates of Ellis Island. “Angus Campbell,” she said. “He came from Scotland and married a McLean girl.” For years that I heard the stories of them, I never seemed to care until today, until I stepped into the massive “Registry Hall” of the entry building at Ellis Island. All of the sudden it became very personal, critical that I know.

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I loved seeing all the red, white and blue:

This young lady was a member of a group of young people chosen from all over the world to tour America:

girl wearing a flag shirt

This delightful family, all wearing US flag shirts, were visiting New York from New Hampshire:

a family wearing flag shirtsMen, women and children alike, all proudly wearing Old Glory:

man wearing the US flag

Even carried the flag proudly!

girl carrying flag purse

The lines of folks waiting to get on the boat headed to Ellis Island:

Inside the Great Hall of Ellis Island. You can just imagine the souls who filled this room.

Trunks brought by immigrants. Many came with only the clothes on their backs:

trunks and baskets of possisions

My sister, Michele Stapleton ~ a Maine photojournalist ~ shown cramped in the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Enjoy some of her NYC photos on Facebook.

Michele Stapleton in the crown of the Statue of Liberty

And finally, see the video of these amazing young men at Battery Park. It’s a tad long but SO fun all the way til the very end. Turn up the volume and enjoy > Street Performers on YouTube

Hope you had a happy Fourth of July. I had one I shall never forget.

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This year, 2011, we are celebrating the 125th year of the Statue of Liberty . . .

Some interesting facts: The copper skin on the Statue of Liberty is only 3/32-inch, about the thickness of two pennies.

From the ground to the top of her torch, Miss Liberty measures 305 feet and 1 inch.

When it was set atop its pedestal in 1886 it was not only the tallest structure in New York City, but also the tallest statue in the world.

Interesting article in the New York Times.

On January 1st, 1892, Ellis Island opened as an immigration station. Fifteen years later on April 17, 1907 a record 11,747 immigrants arrived in one day. Today, 100+ million of us can claim ancestors who came to this country through Ellis Island. Daunting, isn’t it?


No Comments
  • Janis Miller
    Posted at 21:26h, 06 July

    About those trunks – my cousin John has the steamer trunk that came over with the Thorsberg family from Sweden. It was just sitting in his Aunt’s attic in Michigan and he rescued it. It is really amazing to look at that trunk and think of all of the memories, hopes, etc. that went into it before it got to America.

  • lisaweldon
    Posted at 21:45h, 06 July

    i tell you, Janis, the whole experience at Ellis Island did something to me. Seeing the actual photos and trunks…

  • Pingback:what to do in NYC
    Posted at 19:33h, 24 March

    […] the financial district is very interesting. Go further south to Battery Park and board a ferry to Ellis Island. Go up into the Statue of Liberty if you have time. Again, get tickets ahead of […]

  • Pingback:4th of July | Always Better at Home
    Posted at 07:13h, 04 July

    […] I woke up this morning thinking back on what I was doing exactly one year ago. I had barely moved into my new home-away-from-home in New York. My sister came up for a visit and we spent the day ~ a glorious day ~ at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (READ MORE). […]