A Beacon of Hope: The Stories Behind Our Holidays, Cities, and Symbols

About six months ago, I wrote a post to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving that occurred in 1621 as a celebration of the first successful harvest that the pilgrims had harvested. Fundamental to this story was the charity and kindness of the Native Americans who lived nearby- who approached the new settlers and taught them how to farm, creating an alliance that would last for decades before, unfortunately, descending into violence. But, I did not know the story of the individual who made all of that possible and helped the new colony survive and later thrive. Below is a video telling the story of the Native American, Squanto, who made such a harvest and alliance possible. His story is so touching and incredible to learn about, to see the suffering one human being can go through, yet still find it in their hearts to offer kindness to those around them, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

This second video follows the life of one man who immigrated to America, who eked out a living here and how, through him, other’s found hope and safety. I think his story really is the heart of what America should be, that he is what we should all try to be in this tough and difficult world that we live in. We all have the ability to be beacons of hope to those around us, but will we truly be willing to step forward when such a chance comes like he did? I truly hope so.

Both of these stories follow the actions of someone who lived compassionately and sincerely, who reached out to help those in need and became a source of hope and light for them. Through the small and simple things these two men did, great things were made. For Squanto, his kindness, knowledge, and friendship helped keep the Plymouth Colony(the Massachusetts Bay Colony) alive, allowing it to be a success story rather than a failure. As for William Blaxton, his actions of hospitality and charity led to the city of Boston being established, a city that has played such an important role in American History. And though the Statue of Liberty is not truly referenced or discussed in this video, stories like William Blaxton’s truly are the foundation for the monument itself and the inscribed plaque that it holds. America truly is meant to be a place for those who wish to find hope and safety.

This next video comes from a documentary series I watched a while back called ‘America the Story of Us’ and is about the history and construction of the Statue of Liberty. I linked the entire episode, but the part about the Statue of liberty is in the first ten minutes of the video. Despite the fact that it is such a well-known and iconic symbol, many people do not know the story of how it was built. It is a story that I really enjoy to learn about and explore.

I think it’s incredible how this statue was truly assembled and made possible due to the combined efforts of people all across the US, it truly is a reflection and example of America as a whole. Similar to Squanto and William Blaxton, this statue was built due to the words and actions of Joseph Pulitzer in getting the word out and fundraising is order for the Statue of Liberty to be assembled and built. We take the symbol for granted nowadays as if it has always been there as a stable of the American Spirit, but this episode shows just how great an undertaking it was. It is a construction that has taken on such meaning in the minds of hearts of people all across America and even around the world. As the Statue of Liberty says,

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”

cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Though America has its faults and dark marks both then and now, I truly do love and adore this country. Because, at its heart, America is a country that was built by the outcasts of the world. People who were not accepted or did not belong where they were born turned towards America and saw hope and a second chance. It was that view which led them to cross ocean and land to find a place they could truly call home. And though their dreams did not match the reality they were faced with often times, they still persevered and carried on like William Blaxton did and it was the combination of such willpower, determination, and heart that built our nation into what it is. That, to me, is what America truly is at its core and what we should all try to emulate ourselves.