I had an extraordinary experience a few years ago. I was on Ellis island in New York harbor. If you haven’t been there, you should. It is a place that is energized with 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 a profound respect for their courage to embrace change. So many moved step by step through the great hall on their way to freedom.
Amid the din of other people and soft conversation. I walked the path and steps that 18-million immigrants followed. I felt their hearts as I sensed their pride at what they personally accomplished, and at what this country has become because of them and what we still can be.
These ghosts of greatness linger there, not because they came through that portal of liberty so many years ago, but because they stay 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 here 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.