Thursday, July 16, 2009


(Sorry for the delay, faithful readers. We had no internet at home!)

Now, for the long awaited Saturday in New York update.

On Saturday, Lisa and I decided to trace our ancestors' steps by visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. And in continuing with our TV theme: today it's Reading Rainbow! You know, the episode about Ellis Island? Where they play Neil Diamond's "Coming to America"? Yeah! That one! Well, Lisa got to hear the chorus, "They're comin' to America! (Today!) They're comin' to America! (Today!)" quite a few times throughout the day. Lucky for me, she thinks I'm funny.

While on the ferry, it was amazing to look at Manhattan Island and see all of the skyscrapers located in the Financial District...and remember when the World Trade Centers were there. Twenty years ago, I saw them standing tall and blue, glinting in the sun. There is a gaping hole there - and you can see it by finding the cranes. Lisa said, "You would think that if they really wanted to strike a symbol of America, and a symbol of freedom, they would've hit the Statue of Liberty - not some skyscrapers." I responded, "But, they weren't trying to hit a symbol - they were starting a war. Because hitting the Statue of Liberty would've been upsetting - but it wouldn't be terrorism. It wouldn't warrant a retaliation. It wouldn't justify a war. But killing innocent citizens would. ...and it did."

Here are some pictures of us and Lady Liberty...and a few people who wanted to resemble our fave lady!

From there, we headed to Ellis Island. It was fascinating. My great-grandpa, Wilhelm Rohrig, came through Ellis Island in 1902. A year later, my great-grandmother, Katherine, and my great-aunt (who was then 2) came through. I think that they were detained for a few days because they were sick - but I'm not certain on that.

People only spent one day on Ellis. While there, they went through medical inspections (including getting a needle in the eye!). An immigrant needed about $25 (or more) to be admitted - and shouldn't have a job - but should have good prospects of getting a job. You see, America didn't want migrant workers - they wanted people who were going to stay and become an American citizen.

We watched the 45-minute video about the history. It really amazes me to think about what people endured to come here. Even more mind-blowing is to think about where they came from - most from countries where they couldn't trust the government or police - to America, where the people admitting them were truly concerned for their welfare - offering them meals, beds, and even medical care. Only 2% of the people who came to Ellis were not allowed to enter - due to medical concerns or legal issues.
I think my favorite part was the 3rd floor museum. There were artifacts of first-generation Americans - wedding dresses, shoes, quilts, traditional dress, Bibles, hymnals, lace, dishes. I loved finding pieces from Ireland, Denmark, Germany and the Ukraine and imagining that my relatives owned and used similar items. ...I love history. I love tradition. I love family.
Here's some pictures - of 1) Ellis Island; 2) the main hall where people waited in line for hours; 3) some immigrants waiting for admission to America.

Once back on Manhattan, we hit up Wall Street - well, technically Bowling Green. We just wanted to find the "Wall Street Bull." There were so many people waiting to get their picture taken with his head...and not as many with his hindquarters. So, guess where we headed?

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