I believe that every immigrant story has intrinsic value and is grounded in the knowledge that being an American is worth the wait.
My parents’ story began in the 1950’s where they met in London. My father is a Dubliner and my mother is English. Politically, this is an odd pairing – one that Leon Uris would surely mock. But spiritually and emotionally, my parents are a perfect fit. The road they carved out for themselves and for our family was paved with adventure, risk, opportunity, hard work, and most of all was lined with values and beliefs I will instill in my son.
Leaving the security and comfort of their family in the UK, they headed to New Zealand where my father took a job. This move was predicated soley on my parents’ mutual decision and on their faith that although it was the road less traveled, it would prove to be the most fruitful. Believing that luck is made and not merely handed out, my father worked tirelessly to provide for our family while my mother did the same. My father’s job took him around the world, entertaining clients, overseeing manufacturing and quality operations, and proving that hard work does pay off. My mother had the awesome task of raising the four of us; she too had demanding clients whose needs were always met with the greatest of love.
My father’s continued success proved to be prosperous and with every promotion came a change of scenery. We moved from New Zealand to American Samoa, to California, to Puerto Rico, back to American Samoa, and then we finally settled in California in 1977. Throughout all of these moves, my parents remained Irish and English citizens and kept their Green Cards and European passports. For my college graduation trip, they took me to Washington D.C. When we visited landmarks, museums, the White House, monuments and battlefields, I was filled with pride and marveled at America’s short but rich history. I couldn’t help but notice my parents’ countenances as I realized that they too were awe-inspired. It was a moment in time for me to see them light up and beam with joy, just as they did when we visited Churchill’s War Rooms or Buckingham Palace, or Northern Ireland.
I don’t think it was until that tragic Tuesday in September of 2001 that my parents realized what it truly meant to be an American. No matter your political affiliation nor your race, gender, nor sexual orientation, in this country and others around the world, you were changed forever. The events of that day will be etched into our country’s conscience and will immortalize the freedoms we no longer take for granted. They will be the lessons that my son will witness when he graduates from college and he’s standing beside the Pentagon or in front of the Twin Towers Memorial. As he learns of the events surrounding 911, his eyes will well up with anger at the enemy and pride for the fallen heroes.
So, quietly, proudly, and with obvious heartfelt respect, my parents became American citizens in 2002 and although they consider themselves from Europe, they are American in every sense of the word. More importantly than what I believe, this they believe.
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