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America's Flagship: A Golden Door to the New World

In April of 1953, the Freeman (Frydman) family sailed to America, the land of their dreams, on the SS United States.

Elias and Regina Freeman survived the Nazi occupation of Poland from 1939 to 1945. In 1946, they moved to Sweden where their daughters Margareta and Sarah Elizabeth were born a few years later. For seven years, the Freemans waited for visas to the United States so they could rejoin their family in New York. Finally, in 1953, their visas came through and that April, they boarded the SS United States in Le Havre, France and set sail across the Atlantic. In 1959, Elias, Regina, Margareta, and Sarah all became American citizens.

The documents shared with this story were so precious to Elias and Regina that they remained them among their keepsakes for the rest of their lives. Elias passed away in 2000 and Regina in 2009. While Sarah was going through their effects, she discovered the berthing cards and the ship’s log, among other documents of prime importance to her parents.

Collectively, these items tell the story of a momentous event in the life of one family, but they are also a token of a major historical movement. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, more than 400,000 people displaced by World War II were accepted as immigrants to the United States. During these years, the Big U played its part in making the dream of liberty a reality to the “homeless, tempest-tossed” seeking entry to the “golden door” of the New World.


The story of the SS United States is the story of progress — and not just technologically. The ship symbolized the promise of a better life for thousands of immigrants and their families, particularly those who sought to escape a European continent devastated by war. Does your family have a story to tell? We want to hear it. CLICK HERE to find out how to share, or send us an email at

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