JENKINTOWN, Pa. – Fifty seniors took a sentimental and emotional journey to the past on Tuesday, September 17. Visiting the Statue of Liberty brought back memories of arriving in the U.S. and seeing this majestic and welcoming Lady for the very first time. This Lady embodied freedom, safety, peace and a hope for a brighter future for thousands of immigrants, for whom it was bittersweet leaving their ancestral homes and beginning a new life in the unknown.
For many in the group, the visit to Ellis Island brought back many childhood memories. The memory of tightly holding their mothers’ hands, not understanding what was happening but having faith in their parents, made them feel safe. Some were even able to find their names in manifests documenting their arrival in America. Memories of the big hall, long lines and officials speaking in an unfamiliar language were frightening. Soon, however, they were admitted to America, found jobs, became citizens, embraced the new society while maintaining and never forgetting their heritage.
Ellis Island closed in 1954 but the spirit of those thousands of immigrants will linger forever.
The Philadelphia seniors thanked the Ukrainian Community Foundation of Philadelphia and Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union for partially funding their remarkable trip to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.