Ellis Island Steamer Trunks
Travel photography is not always about white sandy beaches, beautiful resorts, and sipping a Pina Colada under a thatch-roofed umbrella.
The observant traveler can’t help but be a changed person as they take in the people, cultures, and memorials of our ever changing world.
I shot these steamer trunks in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, and their colorful presence at the front of the museum immediately forced me to consider the plight of each of the individuals bringing all of their worldly belongings in one solitary trunk.
Leaving all they knew behind, these pioneers stepped here ashore a world of fear, uncertainly, and for a great many, years of poverty as they each worked to find their way in this land of promise.
The museum points out the many struggles these folks faced to find a roof over their heads, food for their stomachs, and a way to fit in and become productive members of the American society. All the while, our American ethnic stew was boiling under the strain of the millions coming ashore.
Growing up in a small idyllic farming community in Michigan, I was centuries away from the struggles these folks endured. However, it did make us both wonder, who in our respective families where the ones that made this courageous leap of faith?
Standing there, we both realized that we owed our free, and relatively comfortable existence to brave family members somewhere up our family tree.
The world becomes a different place when you stand in a place such as this.
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