I had a rather nice exchange of emails with my friend Johanna the other day. I had just published the first episode of this blog, and received this email:
"Thank you for the invitation (I joined), funny that your blog was about the national anthem since today I am going to take the test to become an American citizen!"
I knew she of everyone I know would pass he test, so I jumped the gun a bit in saying:
"Welcome to citizenship in our strange but great country. I am sure you will pass the test with high marks, but more importantly than that, you will have done something that only a small percentage of our citizenry does in their lifetimes: learn about our history and our governmental forms.
"It took me until middle-age before I learned about my country and the strengths my grandparents brought to this country when they fled Hitler's takeover of Czechoslovakia. But I am glad I did, for despite its shortcomings, I am proud to be an American - and likewise will be proud to welcome you as a new citizen.
"God bless you and your family..."
"Such sweet and heartfelt words of welcome. I thank you.
"Your story is yet another reminder of how the fate of one generation is forever altered due to historic events.
"I went in today expecting only to take the test but ended up being sworn in today as well so as of this afternoon I am an American citizen! I expected to walk out of there without my (Scandinavian) accent but I guess I'm stuck with that ☺
"It won't be long before I won't remember anymore how many representatives there are or how many amendments the constitution has, I will probably also soon forget the 5 US territories or who was the US president during world war one, but as of right now I actually know all the answers to all the 100 questions on the test that I was studying for to become a citizen. I enjoyed learning it all, and I will enjoy being an American from this day forward."
Do you enjoy being an American? Are you proud? I hope so...
Our country has many shortcomings, it is true, but yet it remains the "more perfect form of government" envisioned by the writers of our Constitution. They sought to give us a living document, and succeeded!
I have personally travelled the breadth of our continent, from sea to sea. I have seen the purple mountains and the amber waves. I have stood on Omaha Beach in France among the graves of our boys laid to rest in a piece of the USA facing the English Channel. I have entered a village in Normandy which commemorates D-Day with banners which say "We welcome our liberators" even more than 60 years later...
There must be something right with the USA to inspire people even at this time to seek their fortune, leaving home and kindred for the promises of the New World.
So again I say to Johanna, Welcome! Share with us your talents as we will share with you the greatness of our diversity.
'Jus doin' the Charleston...