Statue of Liberty and Lt. Colonel Vindman

Updated 7/15/2020 4:37 PM

On this most recent July Fourth, WTTW aired a 1985 Ken Burns documentary on the history of the Statue of Liberty. The hourlong documentary included vintage film footage and remarks of immigrants arriving in New York Harbor and seeing the towering Lady Liberty.

I did a double-take when I saw the brief appearance of a jubilant young Soviet-born boy named Alexander Vindman along with his twin brother and maternal grandmother. Jump forward to 2019. Alexander Vindman -- now an accomplished and decorated Lt. Colonel -- testifies along with others at President Trump's Ukraine impeachment hearing. In his remarks, Vindman noted, "In Russia, my act of offering public testimony involving the President would surely cost me my life. Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family." Vindman added, "Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth."


His testimony did not cost him his life, but it might have cost him his career. Because he dared speak up against the Trump administration, he encountered character assassination and intimidation. Despite an upcoming promotion, he retired believing that that his current career path had no future under the current circumstances.

On the Statue of Liberty's base it is chiseled, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

The great lady's words beckoned the Vindman family of which Alexander and his two brothers served this nation. Whether Donald Trump thinks so or not, America is better off for it.

Mark Plotnick


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