I had an extraordinary experience many years ago. I was on Ellis Island in New York harbor. If you haven’t been there, you should visit it and wonder.
It is a place that is energized by the resonant memory of the past.
It’s an exhilarating experience standing in what is now the Ellis Island museum. I felt the courageous spirits of our immigrant ancestors and profound respect for their courage to embrace unknown change. So many moved step by step through the great hall on their way to liberty.
When I was there amid the din of other people and soft conversation. I walked the path and steps that 18-million immigrants followed. I felt their hearts with each step and stop on the stairs. I sensed the pride at what they accomplished, and at what this country has become because of them and what we still can be.
These ghosts of greatness still linger there, not because they came through that portal of liberty so many years ago, but because they returned to stand watch. Their presence is everywhere, in old photographs, in hundred-year-old scribbled messages to loved ones on a passage wall, and in the descendants, who visit there and keep it hallowed ground.
Ellis island reminds us that it does not matter how or where or when potential greatness comes to this land, it only matters what one does with the manifesting dreams of freedom, opportunity, and responsibility.