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What A Privilege

Posted on Monday 11 July 2005

I had the pleasure of watching as my friend and business partner, Nick Gustavsson, took his oath of allegiance to the United States on Friday at the US courthouse in Baltimore. It was both moving and frustrating at the same time.
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For the most part the INS folks did a fine job working through the 49 applicants for citizenship: collecting green cards (which are actually pink, in most cases), making sure the information on the certificates was right and generally keeping things moving. Still, though, there was an awful lot of waiting: wait for the courtroom to open, wait in line to surrender your old papers and check the new, and wait for the judge to administer the oath. All in all, a near-perfect microcosm of the hurry-up-and-wait experience most of us have had with the US Government.

On the other hand, it could hardly have been a more perfect reminder that our country, for all our faults, attracts good people from around the world. Friday’s new citizens came from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America; one young woman from the Philippines is serving in the US Navy, and brought several of her shipmates along for support and celebration. Some of the new citizens spoke nearly perfect American English, while others apparently had mastered only enough to pass the citizenship tests and interviews. Yet every one of them stood up in court and swore an oath to this country.

Native born Americans learn the Pledge of Allegiance as kids. We can all recite it by rote, but I would guess that few of us have pondered the words and the meaning as adults. The oath of allegiance that new citizens must be seen and heard to recite is considerably longer, stronger and more explicit in its obligations. Perhaps more of us should swear that oath ourselves; we’d be a stronger nation for it.

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  1.  
    Nick
    July 12, 2005 | 2:08 pm
     

    Jack,

    Thank you for being there. I thought it was very nice to have you of all people there with me. I want to take a moment to share something with you. When asked sometimes by friends and relatives why I am so sure that America is doing the right thing around the world. Why I feel I have to take her side in international issues and so on, I explain that it is not America that is great, it is its people. The most honest and lovable, caring being in the world is American. I am totally in love with the American spirit. That spirit that so often is called America. But in fact, it is the American who makes it all work. Therefor I am more excited then I can say with the straight face, that I too can not say I am an American!

    Thank you Jack for sharing that with me.

  2.  
    July 12, 2005 | 2:12 pm
     

    It’s great to see Nick join us a citizen! I have known Nick for quite some time now and he may be one of the most patriotic people I know. Now it’s totally official and I can’t give him a hard time about not being to vote anymore 🙂

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