Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…. I lift my lamp beside the golden door! – Statue of Liberty, New York City, USA
History of National Immigrants Day
Celebrating the ‘melting pot’ that is the United States, National Immigrants Day brings to light the uniqueness of the background of the various cultures of people who now make up the American people. With more immigrants than any other single nation, the United States is a place that has traditionally held open arms to those interested in starting a new life.
With more than 45 million immigrants, or 14 percent of the population, most people don’t have to look very far back in their line of parents or grandparents to find someone who started their lives afresh in the USA.
After the US became its own independent nation in 1776, the 19th century brought with it a host of immigrants including many Irish who were driven from their homeland by famine, as well as Asians who were lured to the west coast by discoveries of gold. And, of course, the oppression of Jews in Eastern Europe was another motivator for immigration.
National Immigrants Day is meant to give a salute to those whose roots may come from somewhere else but are now planted firming in the United States of America. So raise a glad, have a toast, or say congratulations to those immigrants who make up the landscape of the American population today.
How to Celebrate National Immigrants Day
Enjoy National Immigrants Day in a variety of ways, with celebrations and activities including some of these:
Research That Family History
For those who can trace their family trees back for generations, it might be fun to find out just when and where it was that your own family arrived in its landing place as immigrants. National Immigrants Day is the perfect time to head to the library or get online to do some research into that family history and perhaps discover some interesting surprises in the process!
Visit New York City
The most well-known port where immigrants, particularly those from Europe, have made their entry point on ships into the United States, Ellis Island has welcomed more than 12 million immigrants in its time. Opening in 1892 and finally closing its doors in 1954, Ellis Island was an official federal immigration center for more than 60 years.
Though it’s no longer used as an immigration center, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is worth a visit to get an idea of who got started there and what life was like then.
While in New York don’t forget to do some other touring that can include representations of some of the immigrant populations from the past. This might include a visit to Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Poland, Koreatown, Little India and even Little Ireland which is located in Woodlawn. These microneighborhoods speak to the unique and interesting subculture that is reflected in cities all around the United States.