By Charlotte Van Steenbergen ©2003
Oh, America, when I first
came and saw your beauty
entering the harbor in New York.
Shivers of excitement and anticipation
went through me,
upon seeing a Lady
holding high her torch—
The Statue of Liberty.
Oh, a symbol so powerful
speaking of, and representing
the dreams, hopes and longings
of its huddled masses
who came before me.
Now offering all that and more
once again to those who enter.
It is a cycle repeated over and over
as they come from all parts of the world,
crossing the borders
by land, sea and air.
The poor, the broken
and the dreamers,
all coming, wanting to know
the way to freedom.
Oh, America, how can one not love you?
For is it not so, that it is
because you loved first?
Now we can start healing our broken spirit
and mend our body
so we can start
dreaming, working, and learning.
Yearning to integrate ourselves
to become one of mind, body and soul
A TRUE AMERICAN.
Oh, America, how I love you,
for opening wide your arms
to a wretch like me.
For reaching out with your infinite love
to rescue me, a stranger
Oh, America, I thank you
for sending the masses
of sons and daughters to distant
land and shores far away.
To fight and risk laying down your life
so that I might taste your freedoms
enjoy your hospitality,
sanctuary, and refuge.
And above all, to share in your wealth
and worship your God!
Oh, America, for that,
I thank thee from the bottom
of my heart.
God bless you!
*Charlotte is a WWII Japanese concentration camp survivor and came to America as a refugee in 1957.
Dear Charlotte van Steenbergen. We know how you feel, although we live not in America but in New Zealand. I was born in Malang but when WWII started, we happened to be in the Netherlands as my Father had gone with ‘study furlough’. Although he just had completed his study and my parents had booked to go back with the ‘Oranje’ she never left. I was by then only 5 years old but I longed to go back, what we did in 1947. This was only for a short time as Indie became independent.
At later age I got married and a few years later we emigrated to New Zealand and had a similar experience as you had in the USA. Thank God for this change of life. . .
Thank you, dear Charlotte, for this beautiful poem! You are so talented!
May God bless America and may God continue to bless you and your family.
With love from your friends Peter and Louise.