What Does It Mean to Be a Citizen of the United States?
For Independence Day.
BRYCE ON CITIZENSHIP
- For Independence Day.
Click for AUDIO VERSION.
Have you ever watched a naturalization ceremony? This is where people from different countries around the world apply for citizenship, learn English and pass a test, renounce their homeland, and swear loyalty to their new country, the United States of America. You occasionally see it on television, but Youtube maintains a library of such services. All US citizens are descended from someone who took the same oath years earlier. With me, it was both sets of grandparents following World War I.
After a ceremony, someone typically speaks on behalf of the group. They talk about why becoming an American citizen is so important to them, such as the ability to vote; they talk about true freedom, and living in the land of opportunity, and their eyes swell with tears, as do those of their relatives and friends. It is all rather moving.
They come to America because we have so much to offer, and it's not just public education, health care, or other entitlements they seek, these are mere peripherals. They primarily come for freedom, and the opportunity to better themselves. They do not want to feel oppression from a word said out of turn, and they desperately want to innovate, invent, and earn knowing their work is their own and not the state's. They come for the protection of the US Constitution, a document that has stood the test of time.
The legal immigrants understand the importance of the country, and are willing to fight for it. Quite often, they know more about the country than those born here. It is not unusual for such natives to be ignorant of our history and government, thereby taking it for granted, and opening the door for others to undermine it. They do not comprehend the blood, sweat, tears of those who worked and fought for such a country to exist.
The United States is not a homogeneous society consisting of the same race, the same religion, and the same tongue. It is a melting pot, which ultimately is our strength, not a weakness, where the knowledge and talents of all countries on earth meet and become one, American. Not surprising, our national character changes over time, e.g.; one moment we prefer isolationism, the next we're a world power; we sympathize with the oppressed, and have come to the aid of others on multiple occasions, thereby becoming a beacon of hope.
Americans are competitive, they appreciate a level playing field, but will rise to the challenge when one is not provided. They work hard and they play hard. They are fascinated by technology, the world around them, and the desire to be the best.
Americans are proud of our past. Sure we've made mistakes along the way. We even fought a horrific war among ourselves to settle a principle. However, when you realize this country started with nothing, and evolved into a dominant world power, not because of autocratic rule, but because of a Constitutional Republic, our achievements are truly remarkable. Aside from the past, Americans aspire for the future.
There are a three things you should remember about the American character; first, they like to squabble among themselves much like a family, and as such, do not attempt to interfere; second, our weakness is we tend to react as opposed to plan (as evidenced by such things as Pearl Harbor, 911, Hurricane Katrina, etc.); even with this said, third, do not provoke them or underestimate their determination. They will rise to the occasion as they have proven numerous times. The story of America is incredible, and so are the American people.
Happy Independence Day.
Keep the Faith!
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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.