Proudly, my grandfather stood on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in the year 1920 reading the inscription, “Give me your tired; your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
“I am here,” he shouted as he raised his hands to the heavens and whispered in Greek, “Thank you. Thank you.”
When he walked away sobbing with happiness, he thought, I am home to a new land, a land of freedom, adventure and golden valleys. A land of many people from many lands working together, living together in harmony as they all strive for their best.
He knew little about this new land that began with thirteen colonies and grew into fifty states, each with its own name and own beauty to offer to all. He would learn the thirteen stripes on the American flag stood for the original thirteen colonies and the humble beginnings of this great land. He would also learn America’s flag had fifty stars on a field of blue representing those fifty states and that the red stripe was for strength, the white stripe for purity and the blue stripe symbolized justice and perseverance.
He saw the immense and blue Atlantic Ocean but he would not go further west than the state of Ohio. There he would come to open his own restaurant, learn the English language, marry and raise seven children.
What he couldn’t see and learn of this new land, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would learn to know. They’d learn this land of America, the land of the free, and the land of the brave is their land and your land. It is a land to be shared with people of different color, different languages and different backgrounds.
An artist can take his palette today and color in all fifty states stretching east to west and north to south. He can show all these states with open borders free to all who enter. Color them safe.
The artist can illuminate the blue sparkling oceans of America, from sea to shining sea. The Atlantic on the east and the Pacific on the west with its rugged and beautiful coastline. Both oceans providing us with sea life of every variety.
He can shade into this land its people, white, brown and black with their differences and their commonality as we are all created equal according to our Creator’s plan. Color them with harmony.
Adorn our America with its purple mountains majesty, its forests lush and verdant green with its redwoods ruling the forests as they stretch their branches toward the heavens. Color them serene.
Outline our Rocky Mountains, great lakes, the Appalachian range, the Mississippi River and the scorching endless deserts. Color them all with an unforgettable tapestry.
Tint our land with freedom of religion where we are free to worship and embellish us with our many languages where we are free to express ourselves.
Give us a thousand shades of abundance with our national parks where wildlife is protected with sanctuaries, our golden valleys teeming with corn and wheat to feed our hungry masses. Color them with comfort.
Crayon in our Grand Canyon with hues of pinks, purples and gold. Paint its immense size, beauty and grandeur for all to enjoy. Lacquer in its rich caverns of sparkling calcite crystals with its pink and rose-colored stalagmites and stalactites. And, never forget its mines of mighty minerals such as copper, feldspar, silver, gold, nickel and lead all providing us with many uses.
This great land, America, is my home because of my grandfather’s dream and perseverance to follow that dream. He left his home alone at the age of nineteen and took the steps necessary to make a new life not only for himself but for generations to come. Color us with images of a Greek heritage where we have lived proudly as Americans.