Mother of Exiles

This is a song I’ve been wanting to write for a while now. I think the desire started about the time I realized the Trump campaign, with its hatefulness toward immigrants and others, was no joke. And it’s only grown during his presidency, which has sadly, ill-advisedly, continued that tone.

While Uncle Sam points gruffly out from posters declaring “I want you!” to the fittest and finest, another American symbol, the “mighty woman with a torch,” invites the least and the last. Like my own mother, she’s confident that she can always come up with enough for anyone who shows up at her door – and that her home will be enriched by every person she welcomes into it.

Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus,” inscribed on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty, provided the lyrics for my song this week, the third week of #songaweek2018. The images in the video are all public domain or creative commons licensed, with attributions noted in the video description in case you’d like to take a closer look or see more from any of the artists or photographers.

Enjoy this video. Take a look at America the beautiful.

Bring a Torch

For ten months, a now-23-year-old man has been held in solitary confinement by the United States military, on charges of sharing classified military information with WikiLeaks. Included in this information was a video of an Apache helicopter crew firing on civilians in the streets of New Baghdad in 2007.

While this young man named Bradley Manning spends his days alone in prison, and faces charges that could keep him there for life, the soldiers who murdered the civilians have been charged with nothing.

“All’s fair in love and war.” (John Lyly)

“War is hell.” (William Tecumseh Sherman)

“No one cries like a mother cries for peace on earth.” (U2)

Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabelle. (16th century French carol)

The official name of the Statue of Liberty, a gift of the French people to the people of the United States of America, is Liberty Enlightening the World. As a nation, we have held this ideal high, and mostly fallen short. By attempting to “spread democracy” with military force, and then keep secret the inevitable crimes like this one committed in our country’s name, our government has failed to let the light of liberty shine bright.

You can learn more by viewing the videos at collateralmurder.com (the testimony of Ethan McCord, the soldier who discovered the seriously wounded children, is especially eye-opening), and if you wish to support Manning, visit bradleymanning.org.

There are many facets to this story. If you read the “Wired” interview with McCord and the Wikipedia article about Manning, you will encounter some of them. Thinking about our nation’s military involvement around the world on a deeper level, including the right of citizens to access information about our military’s actions, is a vital part of maintaining the liberties we claim to be ours.

This letter written by McCord and fellow veteran Josh Stieber is a note of hope, and another opportunity for concerned citizens to act.