A New Colossus

In 1887 New York City poet Emma Lazarus was challenged to compose a sonnet for the base of the new Statue of Liberty, sitting in NYC harbor, welcoming ocean-going vessels from Europe loaded with wide-eyed immigrants. Ms. Lazarus, 34, of Portugese- Jewish descent, wrote an inspiring piece entitled “The New Colossus” which ends with:

“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!”

In a few years, in 1900, the United States had a total population of 76,212,168, a 21% increase from 1890, ten years earlier. These 76 million lived within 3,547,314 square miles, a density of 21.5 people per square mile.

In 2000, there were 282 million people in the U.S.

Last year, 2017, there were 325,467,306 people in the U.S., populating 3,537,438 square miles. The calculated new population density: 92 people per square mile. You needn’t be a brainiac to realize we now have more than four times as many people living in roughly the same land area than when Ms. Lazarus penned her stirring words that the National Park Service has memorialized.

I’m just sayin’: That New Colossus lifts her lamp over a different U.S. In 2018; however, it’s the same land area, and our resources are strained. Our will and our loyalties are being tested. And we’re being torn asunder within our own shores.

And, I’m just askin’: When will our Washington, D.C. elected representatives (read power brokers) put aside their personal and political party agendas and come to a consensus on what is best for those of us who presently live here and for those from without who have a burning desire to live here, in the Land of the Free, to the extent that they risk their lives to enter “the golden door?” The issue begs resolution.

Bill Massa,