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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, America - from a "10-year-old" citizen :)

Depending on your political views, they are either undocumented or illegal – but they are here.
And, whether you agree or not, the current “batch” of immigrants in today’s news are, in part, the future of this greatest of nations.
They are only the latest in a long line of settlers and migrants that include people like screenwriter Ang Lee (Taiwan), journalist Joseph Pulitzer (Hungary) and authors such as Thomas Mann (Germany) and Elie Wiesel (Rumania.)

Just so you know, I strongly disagree that anyone who breaks the laws of the land be granted a Disney-style fastpass admission to the United States.
I say this because it’s a major pain in the arse to earn a Green Card, and thus live here legally in the U.S. - but that’s the way it should be.

It took seven-and-a-half years of bureaucracy and red tape to take me from my point of arrival in Washington, D.C. to a Los Angeles-area conference room.
It was there that a United States Federal Judge stood and gave me (and hundreds of other fellow immigrants) a round of applause after a simple ceremony that concluded when we pledged allegiance to this amazing land of the free and home of the brave.

Today, when people ask my background, I simply say “I’m Irish by birth and American by choice.”
So, what should we do with the millions of immigrants “hiding in the shadows,” as some call it?

I don’t know, it’s way above my pay grade, but I’ll tell you one thing.
The vast majority made a long, agonizing choice to come to America.
Some said goodbye to the security of a job and a home.
Many left families to fend for themselves in the hope that American dollars sent via Western Union could turn around severe financial issues in the homestead.

All left a past behind so they could build a future.

One arrived at Dulles Airport on Jan.15, 1996, with two suitcases, no job, home or friends bar one.

We all came here looking for the American Dream.

And, ten years ago, yesterday, on July 3, 2003, I became a naturalized citizen.

So, happy birthday, America.
I love ya, man!
(Here's a great video tribute to earlier immigrants set to Neil Diamond's "Coming to America.")


S.P. Bowers said...

Happy anniversary on your citizen ship. I love your patriotic posts. It's possible to be so used to what we have that we stop noticing it. Your posts always remind me of how great it is here. Thanks for that.

Dana said...

Happy anniversary!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The day before the Fourth of July - how fitting! Congratulations, Mark. Glad you were able to make this place your home.

The Words Crafter said...

Happy Citizen Birthday :) I have issues with the immigration system and I, too, struggle with the answers. But that's a whole other kettle of fish.

There are things, tho, that make me angry when I hear them. I remind people that, whether it was a hundred years ago or last week, we're all here because someone left behind a country, a family-and followed a dream. Who are we to begrudge someone else for doing the same thing? And to keep in mind, the Native Americans were here fist.

I stand with the judge and applaud your presence, sir!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Congratulations, Mark. I got goosebumps reading this, and it's over 100 degrees out. =)


Melissa said...

Great post, Mark. You and people like you are a great addition to our country. :)

dolorah said...

Congrats on your Citizenship birthday Mark. Yes, immigration built this country many many years ago, but it is interesting that some people still think of coming here for The American Dream. So much unemployment and homelessness. Its sad to see how far from even the 1950's dream we've come today.

But, it is home, and I'm not sure I'd want to live anywhere else. All countries have their problems. So glad you decided to make the States your home. Passing those tests couldn't have been easy.

Have a good weekend.


Mark Means said...

"Today, when people ask my background, I simply say “I’m Irish by birth and American by choice.”

Love it!!

Congrats on the milestone, Mr. K, and America's glad to have you :D

klahanie said...

Hey dude,

Can I have bonus points for commenting at two thirty in the morning?

I'm heartened that your dream, your determination to become an American citizen has been marked with a tenth year.

I know, all to well, how the challenge, the adventure of moving, can be daunting and layered with bureaucracy. You knew it was worth it and now you are doing the remake of "Magnum PI" :)

Happy Fourth from the Fifth and no mention that the Fifth happens to be my birthday and that America celebrates my birthday one day early. No not me.

Well done and keep smiling, y'all.

Gary :)

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats Mark. You help prove that pursuing the American Dream is not just about money but hope for a better life.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - congratulations on your ten years ... we couldn't have lived without immigrants - granted we let lots escape over the years - including Irish-Dutch ones!!

Happy Fourth of July weekend - enjoy that beach .. Hilary

Rachna Chhabria said...

Happy Anniversary Mark. Have a nice weekend.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Happy American Anniversary. :)

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Inspiring story Mark!! Happy anniversary sir :)

Unknown said...

Dear Mark,

This was an interesting and unusual post for July 4th.

In all fairness, let me just point out that anyone coming from Ireland, or the other English-speaking nations around the world, has the great advantage over so many other immigrants to America: you already know the language. And Irish English is so good. You didn't have to learn a new language. And here you are working as a writer; you can even work at a profession that demands a superior knowledge of the English language.

I'm not putting you down, Mark. I am sure you have had your trials and tribulations on the way to reach your goal. (Success is never easy, so you are to be congratulated.) Just count your blessings.

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on my post.

Best wishes,

Anna's ISWG for July: Swedish Mysteries

Tony Laplume said...

As Craig Ferguson put it, "American on purpose."

The thing that bothers me is that there's still such a need to find what America provides (or perhaps only symbolizes) here in America. My brother once challenged me to explain why I called us the last superpower. We've done a lot of questionable things in terms of spreading our influence around the world, but what I'd like best to see is the day where other countries can say they have the same kinds of opportunities they'd find here, that they don't feel they have to move in order to find it. It's not about tackling wicked or ineffectual regimes, but making it okay to feel like hope is more than just a word.

Does that make any sense? We clearly don't have it entirely figured out here, either, but I'd like to think there are greater opportunities available. They seem like they're getting harder and harder to find, but that's what every new immigrant has in mind. Maybe it's called the American Dream because it really is a dream for most people. But it's a nice dream.

cleemckenzie said...

The U.S. is what it is because it gets such great people to come here and be citizens. Hurray for you on your 10th anniversary.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Happy Citizenshipaversary! (Now that's a mouth full!)

I'm not qualified to solve the issues if immigration either, although I do have a few opinions on the matter.

A Disney fast-pass -- no. Anyone wanting citizenship should have to work for it. But immigration laws should not and cannot be based on the race or religion of the immigrant. And the prejudice against Spanish speakers wearies me greatly. Many countries of the world pride themselves on their knowledge of more than one language. Why Americans want to boast about being monolingual beats me!

Ella said...

Beautiful Mark! I know my Japanese friend worked hard to be a citizen.
I am hearing that song, I'm proud to be American....." I look foreign, but I am not. So, I deal with that issue~ I am happy for you and all who have worked hard to have another birthday ;D

Gina Gao said...

This is an extremely well-written post!


Nicole said...

Happy 10 years of citizenship! We're glad to have you, man.

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