MY COUNTRY TIS OF THEE
Several years ago I stood in the immigration office in Seattle Washington with my family and other people from all over the world to be sworn in as a citizen of the United Stated of America.
There was one painful moment when they asked me to renounce my Canadian citizenship and swear my strict allegiance to the United States of America. The thought took my breath away. Can you imagine renouncing your country? I had expected to have dual citizenship.
However, all my life I had a special yearning in my heart for America so I made that covenant.
In a video address, President George W. Bush welcomed us as the newest U.S. Citizens. We stood together and swore allegiance to our new flag and country. I gazed around the room at my fellow Americans, my eyes moist.
What had they sacrificed to be here? How would their world change now? I was not prepared for the powerful feelings I shared with so many strangers.
One by one we were called up to receive our Naturalization Certificates, most came from countries I recognized; but some I’d never heard of. Many dressed in native costumes and wept as they broke those cultural ties and embraced new ones. When we stepped out of that building, we had all the rights and privileges of every U.S. Citizen. Pride for our new country surged through every breast.
Almost daily, hundreds of people from around the world are sworn in as legal citizens. They come for freedom and to exercise the right to vote. Some will vote for the first time in their lives.
Today another moment was etched in my heart. Today I watched the Mexican President, who upholds Mexico’s stringent immigration policies, stand beside President Obama and decry Arizona’s immigration policy. I heard our President state that America was not defined by her borders but by our bond. I saw our Congress and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi give these remarks a standing ovation. I did not see one person walk out of that room. America is dying. I wept.