On April 17, 1975 I became a proud naturalized American citizen. I was almost 20 years old.
[UPDATED NOTE 9/18/09: Imagine my Naturalization Certificate right here with a cute photo of me with short, feathered 70's hair in the upper left-hand corner. I was advised by my Favorite and Most Awesome Immigration Attorney (and you know who you are, Abe) that I shouldn't have posted this so publicly. I stand corrected. The rest of the post still remains.]
Before I got to the moment in the U.S. courtroom where I pledged my allegiance and was sworn in as a Citizen of the United States of America, I had to learn a few things.
I had to learn about American history.
I had to learn the names of my representatives in my state and in our country.
I had to learn how Congress worked and what the chain of command was in Washington.
I had to learn about the Constitution. And I fell in love with it.
Having come from what was once a free country that was taken over by communists, I felt a much deeper appreciation for the gift of liberty.
I wondered then and I still wonder now if the birthright of citizenship here in America is taken for granted by those who did nothing more than make their entrance into this world in a delivery room on U.S. soil. But then again, that's the beauty of this amazing country.
When we visited the National Archives in DC back in May, we stood before the Constitution and let the awe of that historic document wash over us.
It was especially emotional for me to read the first three words: "We, the people..."
I stood there and thought how awesome it was that this document included ME, a Cuban refugee, in that WE. And I wept.
Many Americans don't know American history. Or the names of their representatives. Or how Congress works. Or what the chain of command is in Washington.
Can you pass the Naturalization Test that allows you to become an American citizen? (click on the link and tell me how you did. I got 90%. =D)
Today marks the 222nd anniversary of the signing of that historical document. Thirty-nine brave men who, by signing their names to this document changed the course of history.
Some have never read the Constitution or even learned the Preamble.
Let me help you with that right now.... ;-)
Happy Constitution Day.