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!”
These words, inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, were penned by American poet Emma Lazarus. Emma, born in New York City in 1849 was a fifth generation American—her great, great grandmother, Grace Seixas Nathan, also a poet, was born in New York City in 1752. The Mendes Seixas family, Jewish immigrants from Portugal and England in the 1730’s, played important roles in the American Revolution. Emma, a scion of her family, never forgot her immigrant history.
Maggie Hardy Magerko has also not forgotten her immigrant history. As CEO of 84 Lumber it was her final decision to air a $10M dollar commercial during the super bowl portraying a mother and daughter’s arduous, dangerous and courageous trek to (illegally) enter the United States along its southern border. In the full version of the commercial (edited out by FOX television censors) the would be immigrants face an insurmountable wall only to magically encounter a door that, like Lady Liberty’s torch offers a beacon of light and hope. In an interview Ms. Magerko insisted that the commercial was not a political (she supports the President’s agenda for building a wall) statement.
Whether in written word or a film’s image, it is the message of caring, of extending an outstretched and welcoming hand to others that an enlightened society recognizes as its success and what makes it great. Ms. Magerko explains the message of her company’s commercial: “It’s about treating people with dignity and respect, to make [the world] a better place for our children.” When we are committed to that principle we recognize that in welcoming the stranger into a strange land it invites the new person to not only embrace opportunity and/or find refuge it also sets in a motion the consideration for paying it forward. That is what Ms. Magerko and Ms. Lazarus both embraced and what led them to light a lamp of decency and caring.