When I began my graduate school work, I conducted an ethnographic research project on my family's life, and their immigration to the United States. It was a wonderful project. Some day, I'll blog about it, so Nathan will too know the story of our family. Like most of America in those days, my great grandparents came to the United States on a boat through Ellis Island. Placing our name on that Wall was a symbolic gesture of hope and HONOR to my grandfather, and reflective of my love for him and our family. It was my last gift to him, and means the world to me. I couldn't wait to find it and show it to Danny and Nathan.
We began our day, at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, where we boarded a ferry to Ellis Island. This was Nathan's first ferry ride, and because it was such a super hot day, we enjoyed some strawberry icee on the way.
As we approached Ellis Island, I was taken aback by its size ~ it's much larger than I had imagined. We soon learned we were only seeing part of the Island. There were medical buildings behind the main building that is separated by a canal that aren't visible from where we unloaded.
This is a great picture because we are standing in front of panel 684, and you can see just how close we were to not having this opportunity. What a blessing.
On our way back to the main building for lunch, we were stopped by a woman who asked us how old Nathan was. She spent a few minutes ooing and aahhing over him, and then told us she too had a daughter with Down syndrome. She showed us her baby pictures that she carries with her; she was adorable! Her name was Maria and she had passed away. The love for her daughter and sadness of her passing was so touching. As she left, she said something to us that no one has every said that wasn't part of our inner circle, and come to think of it, I'm not really sure how many of them have ever said this ~ she said, "congratulations." And she meant it with her heart. We replied, "thank you." What a miraculous day.
Once we left Ellis Island we headed to meet Lady Liberty! America's symbol of freedom and hope. What a beautiful gift to our country ~ she is magnificent!
Just like Lady Liberty, I have hope for Nathan, and for our country, that one day every family will be congratulated on the birth of their child with, or without, a disability. Hope that one day, the 'walls of difference' will be celebrated, and each person honored for their contribution to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. God bless America.