On Thursday, November 26, hundreds of Americans were sitting in wood-paneled formal dining rooms, fork and knife in hand. In front of them was a 14-pound turkey or a huge ham ready to be devoured alongside stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, and freshly baked rolls. In their kitchens sat their grandmother’s freshly baked pumpkin pie, covered until dessert time. The hum of the TV reverberated into the dining room from the den as footballs were passed in huge, steel stadiums with thousands of fans roaring, betting, and painting themselves colors. It was hearty, this Thursday. It was warm, friendly, communal, and special—for Americans.
For Syrian refugees, there was no wood-paneled formal dining room. There was no chance to choose between a 14-pound turkey or huge ham, and there was no cranberry sauce canned or otherwise. No Syrian refugee cared about roaring for or betting on or painting themselves in honor of football. They were too busy holding their loved ones that still live to their chests, hoping that some country will let them sleep, eat, and live.
What did you discuss at your dinner table?
Did you talk to your favorite cousin about the Kendra Scott earrings you want for Christmas, or the fact that 12 million Syrians have fled their homes because of conflict? How many times were you asked by your aunt if you had a boyfriend? How many times did you ask her why she supported a presidential candidate who refused three-year-old orphans refuge in America?
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
That’s what the base of the Statue of Liberty reads. It does not say “give me the Christians, the whites, and the minorities who want to go to med school.”
Our Lady Liberty beckons the huddled, cold, and war-stricken; the orphaned, widowed, bloodied, and broken. Why must we as active citizens permit our leaders to cast the ones Lady Liberty welcomes to the side?
In his photo series “Where the Children Sleep” photographer Magnus Wennman captures the helplessness of the nearly 2 million children that have fled their country since 2011, searching for places to rest their heads and attempting to escape the nightmare of real life.
America is the land of the free and home of the brave. Let us welcome those who seek freedom and open our homes to those who are brave enough to start anew.
This article originally appeared in The Odyssey Online. It has been slightly modified here.