This meditation in the form of a letter to America (symbolized by New York Harbor) was written by John Paul II on the occasion of his electrifying first visit to the United States in 1979, a year after his election:
Dear friends in New York, my visit to your city would not have been complete without coming to Battery Park, without seeing Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Every nation has its historical symbols. They may be shrines or statues or documents, but their significance lies in the truths they represent to the citizens of a nation and in the image they convey to other nations.
Such a symbol in the United States is the Statue of Liberty. This is an impressive symbol of what the United States has stood for from the very beginning of its history: this is a symbol of freedom. It reflects the immigrant history of the United States, for it was freedom that millions of human beings were looking for on these shores. And it was freedom that the young Republic offered in compassion…
I wish to pay homage to this noble trait of America and its people, its desire to be free, its determination to preserve freedom and its willingness to share this freedom with others. May the ideal of liberty, of freedom, remain a moving force for your nation and for all the nations in the world today!
It greatly honors your country and its citizens that on this foundation of liberty you have built a nation where the dignity of every human person is to be respected, where a religious sense and a strong family structure are fostered, where duty and honest work are held in high esteem, where generosity and hospitality are not idle words and where the right to religious liberty is deeply rooted in your history.