CityWatch, July 9, 2010
Vol 8 Issue 54
This past weekend, my wife Enci and I celebrated the Fourth of July with a ballgame, some apple pie and lots of fireworks. It was, in many ways, a traditional celebration except for one significant difference; for the first time, I celebrated as a participant, not simply a spectator. This was my first Independence Day as an American Citizen.
My parents worked hard to get to America, saving up for years in order to buy passage on the S.S. Canberra which at the time was a cheaper way to travel than by air. We left Australia and were at sea for 19 days before landing in San Francisco where our American adventure began.
Since then I’ve lived all over the country, in large cities and in small towns, in extreme climates and in resort environments, all the while impressed with the limitless diversity of the American people and unlimited opportunity of the American country.
Thirteen years ago, I moved to Hollywood and made it my home. I met Enci and we shared a love for our community, our neighborhood, and our American Dream journey. Along the way we traveled to Budapest and Munich to visit her family. We traveled to Melbourne and Sydney to visit my family.
Each time we returned inspired and challenged and more committed to making our adopted home better, not just for us, but for our friends and our neighbors.
Last month I sat in a small office in a downtown Federal Building, just me and a federal interviewer.
The office was stuffed with files and the officious nature of the process was daunting. I had studied to the point of absurdity, overstudying the names of the original colonies, the names of federal departments, and the names of obscure historical characters.
The question that gave me pause was simple, “What are the opening words of the Constitution?” I paused because I choked up. “We the People...”
Two weeks ago I sat in the LA Convention Center with several thousand strangers from all over the world in order to take the oath of naturalization. For a few hours the Convention Center was officially a Federal Courthouse.
We sang the national anthem, we took the oath, and we were greeted by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who spoke directly to me (it felt that way) and declared that immigrants were the backbone of America. Again I choked up, this time as the President spoke of Freedom, Opportunity, and Responsibility.
This past weekend I enjoyed a classic July 4th weekend, my 45th since moving to the United States, and as I stood under the American flags snapping in the wind, I choked up, this time because I was home.
My parents are no longer with us but I know they’re proud of me. My family here in the US is quite small, just my wife Enci and my sister Sharon, and it is to them that I give my commitment to pursue the American Dream with all that I have.
As for my extended American family of Three Hundred Million people, I have given my oath to uphold all that America stands for and to support them in their pursuit of the American Dream.
It’s good to be home!
(Stephen Box writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net.)