September 23, 1903
Ill never forget that foggy September morning when I first saw America, appearing out of
the mist like land in some dream. Ill also never forget the first day and night I spent here in
my new country.
Our ship had taken two weeks to steam across the Atlantic from Italy to New York Harbor.
Seven days of this trip were spent on stormy seas. Twice I was sure the ship was going to
sink and we were all going to die in the ocean waves. My father, mother, two brothers, and I
held hands in the darkness below deck during these storms. The only sounds I heard at those
times were screaming or crying, and I wished we had stayed in our sunny village in the hills
My brother woke me one morning and tugged me by my sleeve up onto the deck. Most of the
passengers were standing there shoulder to shoulder. I remember hearing laughs, cheers, and
excited talk. I looked out into the fog and saw the misty outline of a giant lady holding a
torch high in the air. Suddenly, I felt dizzy and thought I would fall over. I couldnt believe
that I was finally looking at something I had read about and long dreamed of seeingthe
Statue of Liberty. That was the first time I had felt truly happy since our trip began.
Our ship dropped anchor just off Ellis Island and my family and the others boarded a ferry for
the island. Once there, we were herded into a tremendous building with a big staircase inside.
We joined nine lines of people who were slowly making their way up the stairs. We waited in
our line for two or three hours. When I got to the top, a man in a white coat quickly examined
my body and pointed me toward a door that led to another room.
In the next room, our family waited for so many hours for our name to be called that I thought
I would faint. During that time we were each fed a bowl of stew and some bread and given a
place to sleep. Still, I was both hungry and tired the whole time. When an inspector finally
called our name, it had been 17 long hours. As we left that big room, I looked up at the ceiling
and tried to remember how happy I had been to see the Statue of Liberty. I hoped that our
future in America would be filled with that same happiness.