Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom is one of my favorite books of all time. If you’re not familiar with it, Morrie Schwartz was one of Mitch’s college professors at Brandeis University. He was his mentor. He lost track of Morrie over the years, then one night saw him on TV being interviewed by Ted Koppel on Nightline about how he was dying of ALS.
Mitch, author, journalist, screenwriter, dramatist, radio and television broadcaster/sportscaster , and musician, reconnected with Morrie for the last while before his death, and subsequently wrote the beautiful book about the lessons he learned from Morrie.
This morning I found something Mitch posted on line yesterday. I thought it was very poignant. I wanted to share it with you…
Lady Liberty has her say about The Wall: Mitch Albom
I went to visit the Statue of Liberty. I missed the last boat back. As I gazed at the American shoreline, I heard a voice.
“So, what do you think?”
I turned. Lady Liberty was talking to me.
“I think I’m hallucinating,” I said.
“Don’t be shy. I don’t often get to speak. It’s hard to talk with people crawling up your robe.”
“Well …” I said. “What’s on your mind?”
“What do you think? About the symbol?”
“You? I think you’re amazing. Inspiring. Incred–”
“Not me. The new symbol. The Wall.”
Lady Liberty sighed. “You know, for more than a century, I’ve been the image of our nation’s borders. You thought of coming here? You thought of me.
“But now? Now when people around the world think of America, they’re going to picture a wall — a really long, ugly wall.”
She shook her crown. “It won’t even be green.”
“No, no,” I insisted. “We’re much more than that. We’re a huge nation. Rich. Diverse.”
“So is China,” she said. “But what’s the first structure you think of with that country?”
She had me there.
“What’s the purpose of this wall?” she asked.
“To keep people out.”
“Hmm.” She pointed her torch down to her base.
“Your really big feet?”
“No. The broken chains I’m stepping out of. They stand for freedom from oppression. Aren’t people coming here seeking freedom from oppression?”
“Some,” I said. “Some just want jobs.”
“So they’re poor?”
“Many of them, yes.”
“See that?” She pointed down with her tablet.
“Lower. On the base. The sonnet. Read it.”
“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!”
“Pretty good, huh?” she said.
“Pretty good,” I replied.
“I’ll bet The Wall doesn’t have a golden door.”
She had me there.
“It’s complicated,” I tried to explain. “Back when you were built, people came to follow their dreams.”
“Aren’t today’s immigrants doing that?”
“But they’re not going through proper channels.”
“How long do proper channels take?”
“Depends on the country. In some cases, 20 years.”
“Hmm.” She looked off to Ellis Island. “Did your family come through there?”
“Yes. Early last century.”
“Did they have to wait 20 years?”
“Maybe the laws need more fixing than the borders.”
She stared at me. I think she raised an eyebrow.
“Some illegal immigrants commit crimes,” I said.
“More than citizens commit crimes?”
“Actually,” I mumbled, “most data show it’s less.”
“Hmm,” she said. She had a way of saying that.
“And when these ‘illegals’ come, do they work?”
“Yes. They work so cheap. They take our jobs.”
“Who’s hiring them?”
“Factories. Small business. Households.”
“Are you punishing the employers? Are you building a wall around the factories?”
“Don’t be silly,” I said.
“Hmm,” she said.
She adjusted her crown, with its seven spikes to symbolize seven seas and continents. “Do you know my original name? It was ‘Liberty Enlightening the World.’ “
She looked south. “Will they say that about a wall?”
“The big fight now is who’s gonna pay for it.”
“I was paid for by foreigners.”
“Hey. That’s exactly what our president wants!”
“I was a gift.”
The sun began to rise. “Well, bon voyage,” Lady Liberty said, lifting her arm. “I must get back to work.”
“Work?” I said. “But you’re a statue.”
“No,” she said, sternly, “I’m a symbol. I stand for something. And you know what? Standing for something, every day and night, is really hard work.”
“Hmm,” I said. And I thought I saw her smile.
Mitch Albom is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, where this column first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @MitchAlbom.