October 28, 2020

statue of liberty

Projecting the glory of America through the lens of the CA Dream

On this day in 1886, the Statue of Liberty, at 151 feet and 450,000 lbs, was commemorated as a gift from France to celebrate America’s abolition of slavery.

The statue depicts Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, striding forward with a broken shackle and chain at her feet, a torch in her right hand, and a tablet in her left with the date of the Declaration of Independence.

The statue’s pedestal would later be inscribed with the indelible words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The Statue of Liberty National Monument also includes Ellis Island, this country’s first federal immigration station and once the beacon of freedom welcoming millions of immigrants arriving by sea. This monument has become the symbol of America itself and the American dream we project to the world.

As an immigrant to America, like many immigrants, the Statue of Liberty holds a special place in my heart. In a briefing with the Governor last week who was reflecting on the current sentiment about the issues facing CA, he inspired us to look beyond the immediate challenges and to rise above to see the larger picture, that of the enduring CA Dream. This immediately struck a chord for me and if you’ll indulge me for a moment to share a personal story:

I’ve been engaged on work with refugees and the forgotten, at camps, orphanages and in ghettos throughout the developing world over the past 3 decades. Everywhere I’ve been, the aspiration and vision of America reigns supreme.

My family harbored the same dreams of the opportunity to come to America.  When we finally arrived in MN, on a bitter cold December day, it was scary but wonderful. Growing up in MN, I developed another dream, seeded by images of San Diego’s beaches, Disney Land, the GG Bridge & Chinatown, the nation’s tallest mountains and deepest valleys, redwoods and Joshua trees, Lake Tahoe and the Mojave Desert, Hollywood that created my favorite movies, Silicon Valley that invented the technologies I wished for at Xmas, and lush farms that produced my favorite fruit.  Our champion Minneapolis Lakers moved to Los Angeles and my Vikings just could not overcome those damn Raiders and 49ers. It was the CA Dream that embodied somewhat of a fantasy land that I hoped to simply visit one day.  That day finally came in high school, when we took our first family vacation other than to Fargo and drove the stretch of CA’s coast. Seared in my mind, was that CA was even more glorious than I had imagined.

I’ve come to discover in my work and travels around the world, that much of the world envisions the glory of this country through the lens of the CA Dream. During these troubled times, American ideals will be tested, CA may seem down and out with clouds and haze blocking our sunshine, but don’t be fooled.  As I responded to an audience question yesterday about CA’s outlook, nothing keeps me up at night about CA’s future except the hard work we’re doing around the clock to come up with solutions for our communities.

There are plenty of unknown or unquantifiable risks still ahead, but we’ve withstood everything mother nature and the economy have had to throw at us.  The underlying fundamentals of this creative and innovation hub of the world, with our true melting pot of the greatest talent ever assembled, with land and resources that are the envy of all – CA will soon be leading the nation and the world into the future once again to greater prosperity.

Scott Wu

S. Wu Signature