Tara and I sing with the Midland Chorale, a choral group that presents a number of concerts throughout the course of a year. This fall, we are singing a new piece by Mark Hayes called “The American Spirit.” In three movements, it tracks our nation’s historical emphases on self-reliance, individualism, equality, justice, optimism, and dreams. The second of these movements draws the bulk of its lyrics from a sonnet entitled “The New Colossus,” written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus.

The civil war in Syria began in 2011. For the past four years, violence, oppression, and despair have marked the lives of everyday Syrians. You have probably seen the news, especially in the past month, of how many people have fled from their homes in Syria because of the ongoing conflict. Presently, some four million Syrians have left their country, fleeing – often on foot or via traffickers – to nearby places like Turkey and Lebanon, as well as more distant nations such as Germany and Egypt.

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