I was listening to an older episode of This American Life on the way home from jury duty today and I liked this speech — so much, in fact, that I took the time to write it out when I got on the train. It’s from a very unexpected source, so read it and see if you can guess who said it. Click on the “keep reading” link below to see if you guessed correctly.
We came over on the Queen Mary. January 19 – January 24, a five-day voyage over to America, in 1949.
And when we arrived, my very first memory was my mom waking me up and saying, “Gerald, we have to go up on the top deck there” — one of the decks of the Queen Mary — and all I remember — the rest has been told to me, I was only five — but I vividly remember everyone standing out on the top of the ship, on the deck there, there were about two thousand passengers on board packed together — packed together — and what I remember other than being freezing is that nobody said a word.
It was absolute quiet and we were passing the Statue of Liberty.
And my mother told me later on (as I got older, because obviously I wouldn’t remember exactly what I had said) that she remembered me asking her, “What are we looking at?”, and, you know, what does it mean? And she said, in German, Ein tach alles — “One day, everything.”
The Statue of Liberty means everything. We take it for granted today. We take it for granted.
Remember, the Statue of Liberty stands for what America is. We as Democrats have to remind ourselves and remind the country the great principles we stand for.
This is a place of protection. This is not a country of bullies.
We are not an empire. We are the light.
We are the Statue of Liberty.
Gerald “Jerry” Springer, Jan. 2003 speech to a meeting of the Ohio Democratic Party County Chairs.
(The whole story is worth a listen. It’s about how he went from political superstar to the Jerry Springer we know today.)