We took a break last Friday from our usual “laying down the law” to spend some time laying down the sod for Habitat for Humanity in Pasco, Washington. Habitat for Humanity is one of Anderson Law’s favorite locally operated charitable organizations, so we usually dedicate a day every year to helping with painting, installing irrigation, or doing whatever else is needed to make a house ready for its new homeowners.
If you’ve ever laid sod, you know that it’s not easy to move a few tons of grass, roll it out, line it up, and make sure that the seams are staggered and “kissing”. But what we did pales in comparison to the challenges faced by the people we helped. We were out there working in the hot sun for just half a day. It was really only a drop in the bucket, but were were happy to help these new immigrants. Both families were refugees, one from Syria and the other from Burma. Both families were fleeing violent conflict and war. It was a pleasure to serve them and to welcome them to our town and to our country. We hope that they will feel safe and at home in the Tri-Cities.
As I carried roll after roll, I thought of the time I was able to stand at the base of the Statue of Liberty, that symbol of hope and peace that so many immigrants since 1886 have seen as they first arrived to the United States. Constructing the statue was a monumental task and so was placing it on Bedloe Island. But the monetary cost of the statue is miniscule in comparison to the value of the message: we are citizens of a nation where liberty and freedom are appreciated and promoted throughout the world, in large part because they are rooted in a foundation of law.
I’m a little sore still from my brief stint in manual labor (yes, typing is manual, but it’s hardly labor), but I am so glad for the small reminder we were given that the United States of America, even with all of its flaws, is still a place of refuge. It is a safe place for people who are facing clear and present dangers that we can only imagine. I hope that in the coming years we will continue to be a place a refuge and we will not fail to hold up the light of freedom to the world.