On the Anniversary of my Citizenship Ceremony

Eight years ago today I became a US citizen. As part of the ceremony, I swore an oath of allegiance to the United States. It says in part:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that… I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;… and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Other countries are held together by a shared faith and language, shared ethnicity, or shared food or culture. We are a melting pot of shapes, colors, and forms and we embrace our differences as our strength. Instead of commonalities, we are held together by the Constitution. The Constitution forms a matrix government — with horizontal power and vertical power divided. This enables us to delegate local things to local people. As a result, we are a people skilled in self-government and constantly asked to create solutions to common problems. The division of powers mean we must work together to accomplish our goals — which requires us to develop respect for our fellow Americans. And it means that making decisions about our shared society is messy and complicated.

Over the past 241 years, this culture of ours has not been vulnerable to immigration. It has thrived upon immigration. We have, from the beginning, welcomed the tired, poor and huddled masses, and provided them a chance to build for themselves business and communities that flourish under the protection of the Constitution and benefit us all. As an immigrant, my food, faith and family may look different than yours, but it is not my success that threatens the country. Rather, what will tear us apart is the threats to the founding document holding together our heterogeneous society.

On this day, 8 years from the day I swore my oath, I rededicate myself to defending the Constitution. I continue to be grateful for this country in all of its complexity. And I am proud to be American.

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