The things we do, big or small, can have long lasting effects on the lives of others. This book contains more than 40 stories about how the actions of one person have made a difference in the lives of others.
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There’s a Shaker adage that reads:
"Little acts of kindness, which we render to each other in everyday life, are like flowers by the wayside to the traveler: they serve to gladden the heart and relieve the tedium of life’s journey."
The stories in this book share the truth of that saying.
Seemingly insignificant acts can have a profound impact on the lives of others. A little act of kindness can affect another, not only at the time it happens, but also long into the future—it can even affect those not yet born.
This book is a collection of stories about little acts and events that made a difference. Action taken that somehow made life better for another or others. There are stories about noble deeds that were immediately recognized as noble. But just as often, the stories are about events that didn’t look all that noble at the time—and only later would the true impact be appreciated.
Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor...
The New colossus” is a short, simple poem that nonetheless has inspired millions of people to seek freedom in America, yet its author was reluctant to even attempt writing it.
Emma Lazarus was the poet whose poem was eventually cast into a bronze plaque and positioned at the main entrance to the Statue of Liberty.
Though the Statue was a gift from the people of France to the United States, our own citizens provided the statue’s pedestal. The Statue of Liberty Pedestal Fund was organized in 1883. Its goal was to raise $125,000 to build a base on which the 151-foot-tall Statue would stand.
Money came from various contributors: school children collected pennies; donations were made by businesses; and gifts from wealthy individuals all helped the fund grow.
American artists and writers were asked to contribute a piece of their work to the Pedestal Art Loan Collection. The pieces were to be auctioned off and proceeds donated to the Pedestal Fund.
Miss Lazarus was a 34-year-old New York poet, and when asked to contribute a poem to the collection, she declined stating she was unable to create something “to order.”
Constance Cary Harrison headed the Loan Collection committee and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She reminded Emma that her family had escaped oppression in Europe by coming to America. A few days later, Emma sent Mrs. Harrison her poem, “The New Colossus.” The poem was bound in leather and sold for $1,500 during the fund-raising auction.
President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty on October 28, 1886, but Emma Lazarus’ poem had no part in the ceremony. Few people even knew it existed.
It wasn’t until 1903 when Georgiana Schyler found the still leather-bound poem in a New York City bookstore that it became known worldwide. She was so impressed with the 14-line poem that she had it cast as a bronze plaque, and then obtained permission to have it placed in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
Millions of people have visited the Statue of Liberty during the past 120-plus years. And, undoubtedly, most have stopped to read “The New Colossus.” And millions more will read it in future years. Of course, countless numbers of persons who have not visited the Statue of Liberty know this poem, especially its last five lines.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame.
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea washed, sunset gate 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 fame.
“Keep ancient lands your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to be breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, to me.
I lift my hand beside the golden door!”
Emma Laszarus died from cancer just 13 months after the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. She never knew the tremendous impact her poem had on those “huddled masses yearning to be free.”