10 March 2008

They Comin' to America!

This past week, the wonderful lady who helps me keep my house an oasis of order (as opposed to the capital of chaos it could be) became an American citizen. Eva is an American.

She and her husband came here to give themselves and their two children better lives than they could have had in Bulgaria. Her husband isn't ready to give up his Bulgarian identity and I can understand that. It's a big step to become a citizen of another country and it could feel like you're giving up who you are.

But Eva. She took that big step. That huge step. And I'm so proud of her. Because no matter the screw-ups of our leaders, no matter the foreign policy fumbles, the wars, and whatnot, I'm so very proud of my country and proud to call myself American.

When Eva told me she had passed her test, I wanted to go right out, get her copies of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, tons of American flags, and on and on. I decided I wanted her to love this country.

But, you know what? She already loves this country. To want to become a part of something, you already have to have an admiration for that something. In fact, I think she's more of an American than me. Because flush with her new-found citizenship, she's excited about her Americanism, more than I have ever been. Probably more proud of her American affiliation than anyone I know has ever been. She's going out next week to get her passport. She's not planning on traveling anywhere, but having that booklet with the American eagle on the front, announcing her affiliation with this country, is something tangible that she wants to hold in her hands.

I'm reminded of reading a long-ago interview with Whoopi Goldberg, who said when she fills out an application or an information form, she enters "American" for race. Not African-American, but American. And that? Makes sense. Why do we, as Americans, describe ourselves as African-Americans, Asian-Americans, white, black, Hispanic, American Indians? Why do we make a point of telling friends and acquaintances that, "My ancestors are German/Italian/Mexican/French." Why are we so focused on our pasts and allowing the nationalities of our long-gone families to define who we are? When we are Americans? What is so wrong with that? If we think of ourselves as "hyphenated" Americans, then we are dividing ourselves, and that is never good for a group or a nation.

Eva receiving her American citizenship makes me want to take an American flag out to a busy intersection and start waving it, yelling at the top of my lungs, "I am an American! And I'm proud!"

Why?

Because a new member has joined our ranks - and that's something to be excited about!

8 comments:

Miss Britt said...

YAY for Eva!!

Momma said...

Please give my warmest congratulations and welcome to our newest citizen! I'm proud of her for taking that step, and like you, I am in awe that she decided to declare herself an American. These days it isn't necessarily a popular decision, but I'm so happy she did it. Diversity enriches us as a nation. I wish more people understood that. We are (almost) all immigrants.

I like genealogy and wish I knew more about my ancestors. I care more about who they were than about where they came from, but me? I'm 100% American. It's the history buff in me that wants to know more. And I personally think that people become focused on their past because the present is bleak and the future is scary. The trick is to see the beauty of now, despite our fears.

Peace - D

Not Afraid To Use It said...

I agree with D on the genealogy stuff. I was quite good at it at one time.

Give our congrats to Eva. Like you said, it is DEF not a popular decision right now. We don't have to worry about that Hubbie for another couple of years. I told him that I would NEVER ask him to give up his citizenship. Right now, he is allowed dual, but I leave it completely up to him. It is such a personal choice. And who know what he will be allowed to to once he is even eligible?

The funny thing is I'll bet Eva knows more about our country than all the people who rail against "those immigrants" do.

Military Mom said...

Congrats to Eva! It's always great to hear about new....

Wait. You get a housekeeper? OMG!

Donna said...

A housekeeper? I'm so jealous!
I recently worked up enough nerve to ask an Amish client of mine if they really refer to 'us' as the English (yes, they do). He said yes, with the exception of some who has corrected him because they were NOT English but German. (???) I know. Somewhere in the conversation I said I never really gave it any thought because I? am America. I completely agree:
"If we think of ourselves as "hyphenated" Americans, then we are dividing ourselves, and that is never good for a group or a nation."
Couldn't have said it better myself - believe, I've tried!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Britt - I'll forward that along to her!

Momma - I'm into genealogy, too, I just wish our pasts didn't rule our presents or futures.

NATUI - You are so right. The small-minded anti-immigrant freaks probably know their version of US history and that's it.

Military Mom - Oh yes I do! She's the person who keeps me out of the straight jacket!

Donna - Thanks, hon! And? I'm English? Bet the Queen would be surprised to hear that...

Mr. Fabulous said...

All this time I have felt sorry for you. All this time I have bought into your "poor Heather" stories about how you are trapped all day every day with three young hellions.

And now the truth comes out. Housekeeper!

I don't see anything keeping you from coming down to Florida and getting drunk now!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Fab - Twice a month, dude. She's only here two days a month.