On a trip last month to New York City, my five-year-old asked me if we could "meet the Statue of Liberty." When he saw the statue, he wanted to know what her name was. "Liberty?" he asked. As the ferry took us across the river, I thought about how just one generation ago, my mother arrived in America as an immigrant.
My mom came from a small farming village in South Korea that had been decimated by war and famine. It's hard to fathom the courage it took for her to leave South Korea 50 years ago.
She traveled thousands of miles from a remote farm to one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, where she didn't know a single soul. But looking out at the New York harbor for the first time, my mother saw the statue and knew what it stood for. She came because she knew America was a place to build a life. Lady Liberty gave her hope.
Today, the people of Afghanistan are asking for hope. As we watch Afghans leave home with only the clothes on their backs and cram into standing-room only cargo planes, we must commit to upholding the promise enshrined at the base of the Statue of Liberty and offer safe harbor to those yearning for freedom.
Our Afghan allies went out of their way to help us. They showed bravery then, and they are showing it again now. It takes courage to start your life over someplace new. Now, we need to keep the promise of America alive for them. We can light their path forward.
As our ferry drew closer to the Statue of Liberty, my sons' excitement reminded me of how welcoming America can be. I've been humbled to see so many Americans reaching out and offering to help people they may never meet or get to know. Our collective allegiance to the values we stand for as Americans proves we still believe in opportunity and equality for everyone.
Our commitment to these shared ideals can overcome just about any partisan difference we have, and that's something to strive towards. Andy Kim
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