2016 is a leap year, just as it was in 1776. So on this snowy leap year morn’ I attended my friend’s Oath Ceremony to become an American Citizen. Her journey to reach this point has taken her a decade. And it is not for me to elaborate on how hard this crossing to red-white-and-blue has been for her, because that is her story to tell when she is ready; but as I sat in the Federal Courthouse witnessing my friend and so many others smile with such genuineness and pride, I became absolutely elated for each and every one of them. I wondered about all of their journeys to this point and the legacy they will build here, now that they are all American. I truly want them to succeed here in the United States of America.
Today’s humbling event washed over me, like it was erasing all of that mumbo-jumbo pertaining to the upcoming presidential election—political opinions, passionate praises and bashings and loose hypocrisy voiced by “experts” and the nearly proficient, especially on social media. All of that just didn’t seem as important as to what I had witnessed today.
The Federal Judge’s final message was a poem and it was perfect. I do hope it sang true and loud for all of my new countrymen as I did to me:
I do not choose to be a common man,
It is my right to be uncommon … if I can,
I seek opportunity … not security.
I do not wish to be a kept citizen.
Humbled and dulled by having the
State look after me.
I want to take the calculated risk;
To dream and to build.
To fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole;
I prefer the challenges of life
To the guaranteed existence;
The thrill of fulfillment
To the stale calm of Utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence
Nor my dignity for a handout
I will never cower before any master
Nor bend to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect.
Proud and unafraid;
To think and act for myself,
To enjoy the benefit of my creations
And to face the world boldly and say:
This, with God’s help, I have done
All this is what it means
To be an American.