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This Memorial Day we wanted to share with you some special patriotic stories - a WWII love story, an Ellis Island immigrant tale of heroism, and exciting news of the Statue of Liberty’s reopening on July 4th.  We hope you enjoy them, and please share your thoughts or comments by writing us at historycenter@ellisisland.org.

A WWII Love Story

The wide smiles on this photograph capture a moment in time Margarita Turner will never forget - a reuniting after 4-1/2 years of war. She and her husband Horace were married at age 18, one day before he shipped out with the Army to the European Theatre. Meanwhile she served in the Army Air Force stateside as a cub reporter, placing stories in Stars and Stripes.

As a soldier on the front lines, Horace served over four long years without a break. But the shrapnel wounds he sustained took their toll and he was sent back to America to recover in a VA hospital before returning to his mother’s home in Jersey City. His mother, an immigrant from the Caribbean, had kept 4 stars in her window throughout the war to represent her children in the service.

Margarita arrived home on leave to see her new husband and take the brief honeymoon they never had. Within 30 minutes of rejoining Horace after so many years apart, they left his mother’s house, both in their military uniforms. As they headed down the street, his mother yelled out the window for the entire neighborhood to hear, “Don’t forget to take a picture!” And that’s exactly what they did. They went to the nearest store that had a photo studio in the back. One problem: Margarita simply would not pose in her Army boots, so the photographer provided her with high heels - way too small - but she squeezed them on!

Their reuniting was documented and the rest is history. The couple eventually bought an 1875 home on Staten Island, where they raised their son and daughter. Horace became a police officer and Margarita worked for the U. S. Postal Service. Horace passed away in 2006, and Margarita, now 88 years old, continues to live in their home and attends art classes at the Students Art League in Manhattan.

She submitted this 1940’s photo so it would be displayed on The American Flag of Faces™ as a tribute to Horace, their wonderful marriage and their service to America, a country she loves very much.

Visit The American Flag of Faces™ at www.flagoffaces.org to learn more or add your family photo.

Let Freedom Ring - Liberty Island Reopens!

This 4th of July promises to be even more magnificent with the reopening of the Statue of Liberty! Good try, Sandy, but you can’t defeat Lady Liberty, who stands tall and defiant in spite of your wrath!! The island grounds have been refurbished and docks rebuilt. Visitors will be able to climb up to the crown, visit the pedestal museum, have a bite to eat or simply walk around Liberty Island and take in the view of New York Harbor and its surrounding skylines. Museum highlights include exhibits on the history and symbolism of the Statue, the original 1886 torch and a plaque engraved with “The New Colossus.” Visitors can enjoy the self-guided audio tour which comes with the purchase of a ferry ticket or also join a free ranger tour. For ticket information and reservations, please call 201-604-2800 or go to www.StatueCruises.com.

Celebrating Those Who Served America

When Michael Strank arrived in America with his mother at Ellis Island in 1922, no one knew that the young boy from Slovakia would one day immortalize America's fighting spirit. Raised in Pennsylvania, Strank joined the Marines in 1939 and fought in the South Pacific during WWII. He landed on Iwo Jima in February 1945 as part of the 5th Marine Division. In the battle of Mt. Surbachi, Sergeant Strank led five fellow Marines in raising the American flag at Iwo Jima, one large enough, he instructed, so that "every Marine on this cruddy island can see it." The Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the scene lifted the morale of Americans fighting overseas and on the homefront and remains an emblem of World War II. Sergeant Strank was killed by enemy artillery fire weeks later. The highly decorated Marine was eventually buried at Arlington National Cemetery in the shadows of the immense bronze sculpture that memorializes him and his comrades and remains an icon for the Marine Corps. Click the links below to view Michael Strank's Ellis Island arrival documents.

View Passenger Manifest | View Passenger Record | View Ship Image

 

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