Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Titanic, the Liberty Bell and Me

On this Fourth of July, I can’t help but remember a school field trip that changed my life.

It is typical of me to poke my Irish nose where I shouldn’t.

Take the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

Everywhere on a prickly spring day back when I was a first grader, the nuns bustled about, running after their charges and trying to keep them together. Little girls in green uniforms and pigtails.

Me among them.

The Sister of Charity in charge gasped loudly, then blessed herself when she saw me lean over the rope and drag my finger down the crack in the famous bell. Needless to say, she made me say five Hail Marys for my sin.

Oh if the founding fathers could see what you’ve done, she told me, raising her eyes to heaven.

They didn’t, but it made no difference to Sister Regina Marie. I spent the rest of the field trip sitting in a corner, staring at the Liberty Bell and doing my penance.

And smiling.

I couldn’t help it. I was secretly pleased that I had “touched” history.

And that’s how I’ve been ever since. Touching history in my own inimitable way, whether it’s up close and personal visiting museums and historic sites or writing about it in my novels.

Which brings me to one of my favorite passages in my historical romance, Titanic Rhapsody, when my heroine, Katie O’Reilly, arrives in New York on the rescue ship Carpathia and sees the Statue of Liberty for the first time:
Glory be, Katie couldn’t believe she’d done it. 
Walked right past the immigration authorities with her nose up in the air and her heart in her throat.
She was in America.
She’d never forget the moment the Carpathia steamed past the Statue of Liberty, rain pouring down with lightning streaking through the sky overhead and making her tingle down to her toes. A grand feeling it was. And now she was here.
Not once did they look at her and say she didn’t belong. Smiling and tipping their hats to her like she was a lady.

Katie came to America to be free. Free to be her own person and to be treated as an equal.

On this Fourth of July, let us give thanks for the gift of freedom and pay tribute to all who came here seeking freedom.

Long may the bells of freedom ring

Happy Fourth!!

Read more about TITANIC RHAPSODY here and check out my Book Video!


Wynter Daniels said...

I love that you got to touch the Liberty Bell, even if you did have to say Hail Mary's for it!
Seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time must be an amazing experience for newcomers to the US. Love that passage!
Happy Independence Day.

Jina Bacarr said...

Thanks, Wynter. Glad you enjoyed the Titanc excerpt.

Re: Liberty Bell. It's funny what you remember from your childhood. I never forgot it. We also visited the Betsy Ross house that day, and no, I didn't touch anything there!

Happy Fourth!!

Naima Simone said...

LOL! I love that story, Jina!! Believe me, you have been touching and capturing history ever since ...thank goodness! Happy 4th!

Jina Bacarr said...

Just saw your commentNaima!! Got distracted by the fireworks last night. hank you so much. History is like a good friend who never changes...always there for you!