The Most Beautiful Lady in America

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

The main objects of all science, the freedom and happiness of man. . . . [are] the sole objects of all legitimate government.Thomas Jefferson

A Year of Change and Challenge

The news of this contentious day got me thinking about a life-changing experience I had as a teenager many years ago.

The year was 1957. General Dwight David Eisenhower was the 34th president of the United States. He had a larger-than-life persona, an infectious and friendly smile and he was a person of character who appreciated the virtue of humility.

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends. Dwight David Eisenhower

During his first campaign in 1952, I proudly wore my “I like Ike” button.

On the international stage, 1957 was the year the space age began. The USSR launched Sputnik and the first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

It was also the year of the Eisenhower Doctrine. The foreign policy pronouncement offered economic and military assistance to any country that was being threatened by armed aggression from another state.

Eisenhower relied on patience and humility. Eisenhower didn’t storm around and demand that everything be done his way. He knew he had to work within a system and lead from within it.Samuel B. Bacharach

Here at home, the Little Rock Nine integrated a high school in Arkansas. A ground breaking television program, Leave it to Beaver, premiered on CBS, and Elvis Presley made a controversial appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Virtually every teenager in America who had access to a television set watched Elvis sing Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, Heartbreak Hotel, Don’t Be Cruel, Too Much, When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again and Peace In the Valley.

I was one of those enthusiastic fans.

At the same time Elvis was alarming parents, a group of talented actors made West Side Story. It was the talk of Broadway.

The editors of Time Magazine selected Nikita Khrushchev as their “Man of The Year” for his "de-Stalinization" policies.

A Priceless Symbol of Democracy

Speaking of New York, while all this was happening, the Symbol of Liberty Enlightening the World stood majestically in New York Harbor.

For some unknown reason, one my teachers, Sr. Mary Felician, R.S.M., encouraged me to enter the Voice of Democracy speech competition. I respected her, and I decide to write a speech about the Statue of Liberty. Little did I know it at the time, but this would be a transformational experience. I discovered something about an important symbol of democracy, and I discovered something about myself. I enjoyed research, writing and public speaking.

The Essence of America

For me, the Statue of Liberty represents everything that is good, decent, wholesome and caring about the land of my birth.

When President George H.W. Bush wrote these words, he captured the essence this national treasure:

Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans-liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal-the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history. Across the Pacific, across the Atlantic, they came from every point on the compass-many passing beneath the Statue of Liberty-with fear and vision, with sorrow and adventure, fleeing tyranny or terror, seeking haven, and all seeking hope…Immigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future. George H. W. Bush

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke with insight when she shared her thoughts about Lady Liberty:

America is known as a country that welcomes people to its shores. All kinds of people. The image of the Statue of Liberty with Emma Lazarus’ famous poem. She lifts her lamp and welcomes people to the golden shore, where they will not experience prejudice because of the color of their skin, the religious faith that they follow. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Poem That Says It All

In 1883 Emma Lazarus wrote a poem to help raise money to subsidize the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus wanted the poem to help people understand the plight of immigrants. The poem ended with these immortal words:

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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

This is the entire sonnet.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The Most Beautiful Lady in America

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross knows something suffering. In 1969, she wrote the seminal book On Death and Dying:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

The most beautiful Lady in America, our Statue of Liberty, symbolizes compassion, gentleness, hope, freedom, friendship and a deep loving concern for the suffering of others. That’s the essence of America at its best.

Picture Credits:
The Library of Congress,

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