Anecdotes such as this should put our domestic self-criticism in perspective, and remind us how very much we have to be grateful for. These are the people who flock to frontiers without hesitation, and build prosperity out of little more than freedom, opportunity, determination, and irrepressible optimism. May we always welcome such appreciative new citizens:
On Constitution Day in Philadelphia, 48 new Americans were naturalized, representing 18 countries from Argentina to Vietnam. The citizenship candidates and their families filled a small auditorium, they sat through welcoming speeches, including one from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. They understood that it was a big deal.
They were an appreciative, demonstrative audience, if not Emma Lazarus’ “wretched refuse” of a teeming shore. Many are educated, with their eyes fixed on a shiny future as Americans. They might not all succeed, but they know they are free to try, so they are not complaining.
For the small number of you who think that America is bad, or mean, or evil, come convince our new Americans. You’ll die trying.
They don’t measure America by a dreamy, utopian ideal, they judge America against realities of the world in which they had lived. Despite wars and recession, they cast their lot with us because they know that in the totality of liberty, opportunity and equality — even the freedom to fail and try again — America is matchless.
To some of you, this is flag-waving fiction. To our newest Americans, who have lived here for years while qualifying for citizenship, it is fact.