Thursday, January 02, 2014

Welcome Annie Moore

I just learned about Annie through a Tweet from Lifesite News.  On January 1, 1892, 14-year old Annie Moore, from Cork, Ireland, became the first woman to be processed through the newly opened Ellis Island immigrations center in New York Harbor.

Welcome Annie!

Some 22 years later my grandparents entered the US through the same station.  Welcome Harry and Sadie!

And many decades later, Desperate herself was there.  At the time Ellis Island had been closed for years and was nearly a ruin.  It was just beginning its huge restoration to make it the museum it is today.

I was there as part of a team that was making a documentary about immigration in America.  The host for the show was an American blueblood, scion of an important New England literary family.  The rest of us were immigrant stock- our director was an Italian-American kid from upstate New York.

One day during a break we were talking about what Ellis meant to us as Americans.  I said my grandparents had come through Ellis;  my husbands had as well.  So had the grandparents of several crew members.  Our director added that when his grandparents arrived at Ellis from Italy his grandmother was pregnant with his father.

It was just an ordinary conversation, but there was real magic at work for us there that day. All our grandparents were from very different parts of the world, but here we were that day, and we had this in common:  Ellis Island was part of what made us all Americans.  It was almost as if we were all related. And Ellis was our old family home.

Happy Opening Day, Ellis.  Thanks for being there to welcome all of us.

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