by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
For the vast majority of the people in the world, they are born into their citizenship. It is an automatic bureaucratic process, stemming from a coincidence of birthplace. But for Americans, specifically immigrant Americans, citizenship is a choice. You must freely choose—”without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion”—to make an Oath of Allegiance to the United States during your naturalization ceremony. No one is forcing you to be an American, after all.
While the voluntary oath explicitly lays out only war-time responsibilities—”support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies”—I believe the pledge implies something more. By pledging to give your life in combat to protect fellow Americans if necessary, newly minted citizens also make an implicit promise to do what they can to improve the lives of their fellow countrymen in more general terms. (I’m not a lawyer, though, so don’t take this as legal advice!)
And every day, Americans strive to fulfill that pledge of service, through gestures big and small. …
… On Wednesday, I was once again on the receiving end of that infinite capacity for kindness from fellow Americans. When I published a tweet announcing my naturalization, I received a torrent of messages from Americans across the country welcoming me into the family. …
… I believe America is a great country, but I am also not blind to its faults. Simply being dejected about the current state of the country, however, is not the answer. I have faith that as long as Americans do not forget the spirit of mutual service and kindness that they showed to a three-year-old newcomer, we can overcome any obstacles through mutual cooperation.