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A Message from a Silent Lady

Possibly the oldest lady in the U.S. celebrated her 125th birthday a few days ago. For many years she never said a word, but her message spread throughout (to every part of) the world. When she did speak, her words were written by someone else. This is her story.

From 1836 to 1914, more than 30 million Europeans, including my family, immigrated to the U.S. During the 19th century (1800s) most came from northern Europe; in the early 20th century (1900s) they came mainly from southern and eastern Europe. The peak year (the year of the largest number) was 1907, when more than 1.25 million came from Europe to the U.S. The number could have been even larger: almost 15% of those who began the journey (long trip) died before they arrived.

For many of the immigrants who made that journey, the sighting (first view or look) of the Statue of Liberty announced (told them) that they had arrived safely, that the journey was almost over, and a new life was about to begin.

The Statue of Liberty has not always been the greeter (someone who welcomes) of immigrants and the symbol (something that represents or stands for something else) of hope for those who were looking for work and the freedom to think and worship (practice their religion) the way they wanted. She began life as a gift from a friend. During the American Revolution, France had fought with the U.S., helping it win its freedom from England. About 100 years later, in the late 1800s, France gave the Statue to the U.S. to celebrate both countries’ belief in liberty.

The Statue represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. She holds a torch (a burning light) in her right hand and a tablet (a flat piece of stone or wood to write on), representing the law, in her left hand. The date of the American Declaration of Independence – July 4, 1776 – is written on the tablet. A broken chain lies on the ground at her feet.

As immigrants passed (went by) the Statue on their way to New York harbor (where ships stop), it began to take on (develop) new meaning. That meaning became permanent as the result of a short poem written in 1883. The U.S. didn’t have enough money to finish the pedestal (base or support) the Statue stands on. Many Americans sent donations (money gifts) – often less than one dollar – to help pay for the pedestal. Many artists, like poet Emma Lazarus, created artworks to help raise money.

Lazarus’ poem, New Colossus, included the now-famous words that gave new meaning to the Statue. Here are some of the most important lines from the poem; I’ve paraphrased (used my words) some of it to make it easier to understand:

Here shall stand a mighty woman, the mother of exiles (people who live away from their native country). The light of her torch shines around the world, and she silently cries, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled (to be close together because you’re cold or afraid) masses (large numbers of people) yearning (desiring) to breath free.”

In 1903 Lazarus’ poem became a permanent part of the Statue. It was engraved (cut into a piece of metal) on a plaque (piece of metal with writing on it) and hung inside of it.

Happy birthday, Lady Liberty! May you have many more.

~ Warren Ediger, creator of Successful English.

Photo by Koshyk used under Creative Commons license.

27 Responses to “A Message from a Silent Lady”

  1. Peter Says:

    “Blessed is he who expects nothing,for he shall never be disapointed .”
    The proverb really fits in here.
    Dear Warren,
    Truly ,
    No matter how high my expectation is ,your posts always top it.
    Man , mesmerizing stuff you have up there.
    I enjoyed the history piece you threw my way today.
    I must say ,I just skimed it.
    But ,scanning it at my leistuer tine would be a top priority.
    I Like what you wrote bro.

    Cheers,

  2. erkin Says:

    All countries have their own landmarks, monuments, hallmarks. These architectural marvels retain and conserve the spirit of those countries. All symbolizes one idea or denote an particular ideology. The messages they carry are universal and all serves to elevate social and global standards for human beings.

  3. Michel Says:

    Dear Warren,
    Lot of symbols in the world gave us the opportunity to remember the most important events.
    Student in front of the tank on Tianamen place.
    The destruction of the East-Berlin wall
    All the cemetery in memory of wars
    ………

    Some of them are happy and other are very sad.
    We need to think about them

    your topic is as always very interesting
    Thank you Warren……As someone says, May you have many more.

    Bye,
    Michel

  4. cesar martins Says:

    HI there!I’ve been improving my English a lot after finding your site out!Thank you a lot!Take care!

  5. erkin Says:

    We also have similar monuments, landmarks in Turkey as well. One of the most known one is k?z kulesi “girl Tower” in Istanbul. It is located on a little piece of land off the coast in the sea. The land it stands is not more than a few meters width. It is quite small architectural construction. It is roughly 10 meter long and just a few meters away off the coast of Istanbul. It overlooks the very busy part of the city. An busy road and some buildings are on the coast this structure faces. There are shuttle boats running to this tower from the coast. In addition, there is a little restaurant just on the top of the this building. The restaurant is not big enough to hold more 20 or 30 people though. I remember seeing this tower several times when I passed the road that faces the tower. But I didn’t pay any visit particularly to this tower. It is most commonly view from Istanbul on post cards. I believe it really embellishes the Istanbul bosphorus and adds up to beuaty of the city. If you plan to visit Istanbul and it should be one of the destinations you should not miss. There are tour organizations you can take advantage of to visit Turkey. the k?z kulesi must be the part of your holiday schedule.

  6. Peter Says:

    I m totally frustrated , there are lots of words and expressions out there. The question is: learn or not to learn:)
    Seriously,
    How on earth should I distinguish between ridiculously common, awfully common,very common, common, not common ,not common at all terms.
    Today ,I stumbles upon a new word “moreish” as I was fumbling with today’s paper:)
    I took Jeff’s advise regarding reading newspaper everyday.
    So,everyday I come across new words
    Moreish means tasty food.
    I never heard of it before.
    I never heard anybody uses it. Still ,the word is out there ,taunting me:)
    It is so frustrating.
    Is there any way we can come up with a system that tells us the usage rate of terms.
    What is the point of learning a word that just use once a century is used in a local newspaper , or by a native-speaker.
    You know what I mean. It is a wast of time and energy people.
    I guess we should stick to what Jeff teaches us. I know the fact that all of them fall in the cattogary of ridiculously ,awfully ,and very common since ad the term comes out of jeff ,there we are ,the term is all over the place :)) English people start using the term as if it was a set-up or sth that not using the term till Jeff utters it on Eslpod:)
    Seriously,I hear the term from him initially then,the term is everywhere on tvshows ,news,talk shows,daily conversation .the thing is , the term was there ,it ,but I subcontiously missed the term because I didn’t know or I couldn’t undrestand it.
    You see what I mean.
    So ,the only solution I can think of is to stick strictly to Jeff’s audio lesson and what Lucy compose,unless Jeff comes up with another revelusionary program in regards to accent adoption and word commonality. I cross my fingers and wish for the best!
    You never know, Jeff works miracle ,doesn’t he?

    By now

  7. emiliano Says:

    Tanks on the streets of Prague by the year 1968, tanks on Valencia´s (Spain) streets at the night of february 23rd, Hungary
    invasion of 1956 by the russian troops that finished with thousands of dead or executed people who were against
    the oppression or recently tanks on Tianamen square or Teheran similar protests are bad really bad symbols of the repression
    against the longing of people to have freedom and democracy in their own countries.
    Today are happening the same some other places like North of Africa and another parts of the world.
    It is necessary to be conscious about these acts that finished in real cruel bloody ends the majority of times.

    But another symbols have been really happy and I could remember them with real pleasure being good examples of
    the peaceful fight of people to obtain freedom and democracy:

    The fall of Berlin´s wall or the Velvet Revolution in Prague with thousand of people in the Wenceslas Square
    or even the sight of deputes coming out from the Madrid Congress in february 1981 once the intent
    of “coup d’etat” was finished.

    So the sight of the Statue of Liberty has been always pleasant for me the same as for millions of people coming into
    a new democratic country to start a new life far away, frequently, from oppression or persecution campaigns in
    their own countries against their ideas or religion believes but either misery or poverty.
    How many hopes have seen the eyes of this Silent Lady?…No body knows.

    Thank you Warren.

  8. Sergio Says:

    Dear Warren and dear friends,
    I would like to add to the freedom symbol like the Statue of Liberty another one spreads everywhere right now:
    the streets all around the world occupied by the 99%’s people, woundn’t I?
    Sometimes freedom mustn’t stay in silence… :D
    Sergio Smiths

  9. Betty Says:

    Thank you very much indeed, Warren, for this silent but effective article reminiscent of happier time of my life.

    I was there; I was one of the visitors on the Liberty Island to see this beautiful lady last month.

    She is so beautiful that no one wants to leave her there alone in the island.

    I bought two little “Statue of Liberty” key rings home as souvenir. I later realised that, the act of me buying them even though I was on a very tight budget was because I wanted to bring this beautiful lady home.

    Oh, beautiful lady, you are so beautiful that America people are not going to give you the liberty to explore the world like I do. They keep you isolated in the island, alone.

    Do you feel lonely when all the visitors have gone home?

    Do you want to cry when you see all the people come with their families and you do not have any family members with you?

    For one thing, you are a real beauty, you are a real icon, every one falls in love with you, which you did not expect when you were born.

    I am glad that you are on the front cover of our ESLPOD.com course “Introduction to the United States”.

    Yes, we see you every day, everyday ……………..

    Goodbye, beautiful lady, I promise, I will come back to see you again.

    Thank you, Warren, thank you.

  10. sara Says:

    Thanks Dear Warren,I was really moved by it.to be honest I had to read it twice to get it completely .It really impressed me,especially the last line. thanks for it.

  11. Sanaz Says:

    Dear Warren,

    Thanks for your nice and informative post. I didn’t know the story behind the statue, but when I look at its picture, the lady gives me the exact feeling of Lazarus’ poem. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free.”

    Hope our planet sees the day in which all people of all around the world breath free!

    Please write more about historical places and events.
    Thanks!

  12. Peter Says:

    Warren,
    You said everything about statues of liberty ,but one trivia
    How tall the lady is?
    U left out the most interesting part:))))
    And what is made of?
    Seriously,
    Quench my curiosity.
    How tall is it?

  13. Myo ko ko Says:

    A little long time no post, Warren?
    Thanks indeed for your post and I’m improving my English by reading every piece of all of your stuffs.
    It seems new listeners are coming into our heaven, here.
    Good! we from the around the world are learning English in this very one place.

    Cheers, folks!!

  14. Betty Says:

    Sorry, I think I might have made a mistake in my first sentence.

    Perhaps I should have said: “Thank you very much indeed, Warren, for this silent but effective article which is reminiscent of happier time of my life”?

    I am not sure.

  15. emiliano Says:

    Dear Betty, ………ja,ja,……..emiliano´s opinion is here.

    Thank you very much indeed, Warren, for this silent but effective article reminiscent of happier time of my life.

    Thank you very much indeed, Warren, for this silent but effective article which is reminiscent of happier time of my life”
    ——-
    Dear Betty, which of the two phrases are right?
    I don´t really know, to me the first could be as right as the second.

    My way?
    Well, I think I would be write the phrase in a different form but I don´t know if it could be better.
    Let me see, Betty:
    “Warren, thank you very much indeed for this silent effective article that reminds me one of the happier time in my life.”

    You may see Betty that I am a very brave impertinent person that dares to tell you something about my own
    English style.
    But to me the three phrases could be right and clear.

    Our teachers have the word, as always.

    I hope to see you in Madrid some day, today I have been in a new place “Madrid Rio” what is really incredible.
    I think you, and every one of our friends, could see the wonderful site of Madrid by google photos or similar.
    Sure the Wiki says something about the place.

    Also the bigest exposition of Ermitage Museum is now in The Prado of Madrid, never so many art paints and figures
    have been out of the Ermitage Museum except in London, I think, but I´m not sure.
    This of Madrid is absolutely large and incredible for art lovers.

    Greetings.

  16. emiliano Says:

    Peter,

    The Statue of Liberty is the largest ever built. It weighs 240,000 kilos, has a height of 46 meters (152 feets) and stands on a pedestal of 45.7 meters (151 feets aprox). The head is a crown of seven points, representing the seven continents. An elevator takes visitors from the pedestal to the base of the statue, and then 168 steps lead to the crown in each of the two staircases.

    It is a copper statue, covered with a long flowing robe, standing majestically on a tiny island in the harbor of New York welcomes you to the boats and arriving passengers. In his right hand holds a torch aloft pointing to the sky, in the left is a tablet that reads: “July 4, 1776″, when it proclaimed the Declaration of Independence.
    The Statue of Liberty, paradoxically, was not even formed in the U.S., but in the study of a French sculptor called Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.

    The statue, whose full name is “Liberty Enlightening the World” was a gift from France to the United States, which symbolizes the love of both countries to democracy.

    A smaller version of 36 feet (11 meters) tall and sculpted in bronze, is one of the bridges across the River Seine in Paris.
    …..
    As my two daughters and Ana, my pupil and friend, have been there I know just a little about the “Silent Lady with the Torch hight above grasped in her hand”. and of course N.Y. is my city after Madrid.

    Regards.

  17. Betty Says:

    There was a saying in Chinese that I learned when I was small.

    It is something like:

    “Life is precious; love is even more highly placed, but for the sake of freedom, both can be sacrificed”.

    My salutes to the 15% would be Americans who did not make it.

  18. Ziba Says:

    Hi!

    In most countries you can see a symbol of liberty especially countries which had revolutions so they celebrate the day in which they got independence.

    It’s very important to save that big event and respect the people who died for and the people who made efforts to achieve the liberty.

    Nations celebrate and fight tooth and nail for their independence. This is a way to follow the people died for it.

    Thank you Warren, anothe interesting topic,

    Ziba

  19. john Says:

    Thanks Warren, I didn’t know anything about the history of the Silent Lady. Somehow, the Statue of Liberty evokes memories of the movie “Planet of the Apes” whenever I see it. I’m talking about the
    classic one, not the remake – specifically I mean the one scene, where the protagonist and a woman are on horseback, strolling down the beach, and all of a sudden they see the remnants of the
    Silent Lady. This very one scene is somehow edged in my brain.

  20. Tania Says:

    Hi! Listening to the English Cafe 244 on Ellis Island again and reading “A Message from a Silent Lady” I have now a clear image on this historical landmark.
    Thank you.

    Best wishes,

    Tania

  21. Betty Says:

    Hi Emiliano

    Thank you very much for explaining to me about the usage of English.

    I think you are right, there are more than one way to describe one thing in English.

    I have found one more mistake in my post earlier.

    I think instead of saying “love is even more highly placed”

    I should have said “love is even more highly praised”.

    I don’t know why I said “highly placed”, it doesn’t make sense, does it?

    I am very happy to make a mistake here in this blog, I will remember the mistake and I shall get it right next time.

    I think I have written very badly in this post, because I use “I” to start every sentence.

    I am sorry.

    Thanks again, and all the best wishes

    Betty

  22. emiliano Says:

    Betty,

    Yours and mine have some little mistakes that were appointed to me by an English
    Linguist wise person.
    He was so kind as to say me none of the three were correct.
    ——
    Don´t worry Betty, for us this is a very difficult task and it is for sure that
    we´ll never could write English in the absolutely right way.
    English is a long university subject for english native students, so for us?
    It is unimaginable to have so high level as the English specialists, people
    that have been all their life studying it.

    You, me, and lot of friends here write well enough and every day it would
    be even better.
    I enjoy a lot writing in this so difficult language and it is like a form of living.
    In fact I don´t need English language for nothing practical but I need it
    in the most important way…..my own pleasure having the opportunity
    of communicating, reading original books, and at the end understanding
    some movies in its original version.

    Be sure you know quite a lot to teach the children in future.
    Look at me, a young girl of 31 is coming home, after a hard day of work,
    since more than a year only to talk for a while improving new vocabulary
    what is good for her and for me.
    The wise teacher is the one who knows how to transmit the little he or
    she knows but not the wiser who can´t transmit anything of their big
    knowledge.

    Greetings.

  23. emiliano Says:

    Having in mind you are curious Betty, this is what the nice
    English Linguist told me:

    “All of these are correct if we make a couple of small changes (see below):

    1. put a comma after the word “article” in the first two.
    2. put the article “a” in front of “happier” – you’re referring to a specific time – “a happier time of my life”

    3. in the third one, “time” needs to be plural – “times” – because of “one of the…” (one of many times)”

    For me the lesson has been really useful and very nice.

    All my best to you Betty.

    emiliano

  24. Betty Says:

    Thank you very much indeed, Emiliano. And a ‘thank you’ to your English Linguist wise person (because you had not say that he was your friend, I had to use ‘person’ instead of assuming he was your friend etc).

    I am so happy to learn about how to correct the sentence by changing just a little bit of it.

    Lucy told us “The Power of Punctuation” in this blog almost a year ago (Tuesday 9th November 2010 to be exact). Punctuation can be really powerful!

    Thanks again.

    All the best to you.
    Betty

  25. Betty Says:

    Hi Emiliano

    I like what you wrote so much that I would like to quote it here although our friends can easily found the original of your writing from your post above:

    “for us this (English) is a very difficult task and it is for sure that we´ll never could write English in the absolutely right way.
    English is a long university subject for English native students, so for us? It is unimaginable to have so high level as the English specialists, people that have been all their life studying it.

    You, me, and lot of friends here write well enough and every day it would be even better.
    I enjoy a lot writing in this so difficult language and it is like a form of living.

    In fact I don´t need English language for nothing practical but I need it in the most important way…..my own pleasure having the opportunity of communicating, reading original books, and at the end understanding
    some movies in its original version.

    Be sure you know quite a lot to teach the children in future.
    Look at me, a young girl of 31 is coming home, after a hard day of work, since more than a year only to talk for a while improving new vocabulary what is good for her and for me.
    The wise teacher is the one who knows how to transmit the little he or she knows but not the wiser who can´t transmit anything of their big knowledge”.

    To me, your wise words are absolutely superb.

    I need to be able to speak good English to deal with everyday life. Even checking into a hotel or a flight needs good enough spoken English.

    Like you, I do not necessarily need to learn English for any practical reason, but we both have inspired our daughters to work harder on learning English. That’s the biggest reward for our hard work.

    Best Wishes to you.

    Betty

  26. emiliano Says:

    Thank you Betty, that´s true and it is really very good.
    I could remember teaching English to my little daughters
    when they started to speak Spanish.
    Yes, it was at the same time.
    The first word Laura said in English was “toys” when she was
    only three years old.
    The three little girls in front of me and their father was
    the English teacher, so good memories.
    Cuca and me always remember Laura´s first word….”toys”
    Now Laura is in Copenhaguen working and using English as her
    second language.
    Of course she now needs to learn Danish, and it has to be really
    a very difficult task.
    As you said Betty, yes, I am very happy and proud of having transmitted
    to them this my little knowledge when they were little children.

    I think it was a privilege that rewards all my efforts to learn this
    beautiful and difficult language.
    Nothing gives a mother or a father more satisfaction than to teach
    something like a language, geography or math, to their children apart
    of the appropriate educational example with their acts.

    Friends of the blog if you have little children teach them
    which ever was your level, all children love to learn words
    and for them it is like a play to say them and having a good
    time.

  27. fannywp Says:

    My English is very poor. But it is not very difficult for me to read this article. Many words have been learned, many words are familiar. I am very glad to find this bog, and I will follow you to continue my English learning.