Monday, August 14, 2006

New York Re-cap

Just flew in from New York, and boy are my legs tired. Doesn’t mean I’m un-flappable…but we did walk the length and breadth of Manhattan the last four days.

It was a wonderful trip with BizRadio Network listeners to play The MoneyGame in the financial capital of the world, to bond with new friends, and experience the sights and sounds of New York City.

My son raised an interesting question during our visit: “How do you sleep in The City that Never Sleeps?”

Very well, as a matter of fact, by the time you finally stumble into bed after a day of playing and working with MoneyGame attendees, and then hitting the points of interest that you cannot miss when you’re in New York.

Ground Zero was made even more poignant by seeing the Oliver Stone film, “World Trade Center.” The movie, along with “Flight 93,” should be required viewing for anyone who is, or has ever thought about, being an American.

The Statue of Liberty was a particularly memorable stop on our itinerary, as I found myself looking at the crowd on Liberty Island through a slightly different filter. Here were typically American families, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and in many cases, at least one set of grandparents…all gathered around an eleven-point star that forms the base of Lady Liberty’s pedestal.

You can see that in your mind’s eye, can’t you—all those American families?

Now fill in the detail with this point: all those families were brown-skinned, yellow-skinned, black-skinned, or in our case, tinged with a little pinkness from the sun. Those American families were laughing and talking in dialects from the Middle East, the Far East, as well as the near Eastside of Manhattan. As we strolled along the shaded sidewalks, my ears picked up snatches of conversations in Spanish, French, Vietnamese, and Italian, along with the regional versions of English.

There were people in turbans and ball caps, polo shirts and saris, Nike’s and flip flops.

The most lasting impression hit me in the gift shop, where I observed Muslim women, their heads modestly wrapped in scarves, thronging the souvenir stands.

They were purchasing items depicting the liberties that the statue has represented for generations of people from all points of the compass, coming to America, longing to be free. A supreme irony, don’t you think?

Freedom is an international language that all ears can hear, all tongues can speak, and all hearts can believe in. That longing, and its promise of fulfillment in America, was best captured by the poet, Emma Lazarus, in her work, “The New Colossus.” Her words have been associated with Lady Liberty, and the gateway to America that beckons from nearby Ellis Island, since 1903. Those words kept running through my head as I watched in amazement at the tapestry of humanity on display at the feet of this amazing monument:

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!

During a week of travel tainted by yet another terrorism scare, it was uplifting to see so many different people from so many diverse origins, gathering at around this monument to freedom, mingling in harmony, while communicating in cacophony, but all congregated to respect that strongest urge of mankind.

To be free.

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