Lady Liberty’s Tears’

Statue of LibertyI’m watching the MLB all-star game for the first time ever.  I love baseball but the all-star game has just not ever held interest for me.  I’m really glad I decided to watch tonight for two reasons. The first being that, as a lifelong NY Yankee fan (please don’t judge me), seeing Mariano Rivera take the pitcher’s mound for his last All-Star game is an emotional and historical moment I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

The other is seeing Neil Diamond sing ‘Sweet Caroline’.  It isn’t the song, although it’s been my favorite since my first name is similar to Caroline, as the memory it brought back from this past July 4th.

Earlier that week I heard Neil Diamond singing ‘America’ on the radio.  I was struck by the positive energy in the song and the hope it translated of early immigrants to America.  I know that Ellis Island had its issues and acclimation was not without incident.  The song stayed with me for days and having read about the deaths of four Latinos in June it left me thinking about how much has changed in our view of immigrants to this country.  At Ellis Island there was a process…..today we try to make our southern border a fortress.  I’m not sure what changed other than existing population in the US today versus the days of Ellis Island immigration.  Based on census records the population of the United States increased at a rate of between 20% and 35% a year from 1790 to 1890 when Ellis Island opened.  For the years that Ellis Island operated (or until 1960 census) the rate of increase had fallen from 14% to 20% a year.  Since 1960 the increase has dropped from 9% to 14% a year as of the 2010 census.

So population and scarcity of resources can’t be all the answer.  I believe our attitudes have changed due to greed and fear.  But back to July 4, 2013.

Because the song had continued to haunt me and I was thinking about freedom – not to mention reading the biography of Nelson Mandela – I re-wrote the lyrics.   Perhaps Mr. Diamond would consider making a new recording of that old classic?

America (for Latino Immigrants)

Far

They’ve been travelling so far
From impoverished homes
To “the North”ern Star

Free
They want to be free
They struggle through
Hang on to a dream

In semis and on the plains
They’re coming to America
Don’t want to look back again
They’re coming to America

Home, it don’t seem far enough away
So we’re travelling light today
Past border guard forms
Past border guard forms

Home, to a dark and dingy cave
Waiting for coyotes to lead the way
Desert sun burning warm
Desert sun burning warm

From below the boarded world
Of their dreamland – America
If they’re caught then they’ll be hurled
From their dreamland – America

It’s just a dream that takes them there
Dying to come to America
American dream they can’t share
Die in deserts of America

They’re coming to America
They’re walking to America
Crossing over to America
And they’re dying in America
Today, today, today, today, today

My country ’tis of thee
(Today)
Sweet land of liberty
(today)
Of thee I sing
(today)
Of thee I sing
(today)


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