Dear Mr. President,
Yesterday was an amazingly joyful day and a depressingly sad day, for me, and millions of other Americans and people around the world.
September 21, 2011 in Sacramento California, in 100-degree weather, nearly 1,200 people from all walks of life, from countries all around the world, and ranging in ages from 18 to over 80, became U.S. Citizens. What a transforming and beautiful event.
My dear friend Lenka, whom I wrote about on Day 91, raised her right hand, took her oath, and swore to uphold the laws of the land and the Constitution of the United States, from any and all enemies both foreign and domestic. She did so without reservation or hesitation, because becoming an American Citizen was her lifelong dream. The oath is almost identical to the one you swore too on your inauguration, except these new Americans also swore to pick up arms and defend this country.
After all the paperwork was completed, Lenka, her daughter Romana, and I celebrated at a local restaurant with lunch and a bottle of champagne. I didn’t want the day to end, I didn’t want that feeling of joy to end, I didn’t want to come back to the realities swirling around my small world, instead, I wanted to revel just a little longer, remembering all the happy faces, filled with pride and love of their adopted country. I wanted to remember the little children watching parents become citizens, because now it means that they too can become citizens without fear of deportation later on in life.
But alas, I was forced back into recognizing an ugly part of America that was about to unfold on the very same day… the murder of Troy Davis in Georgia. I’m not going to get into his guilt or his innocence, but the fact that my country and now Lenka’s and 1,200 other peoples country, can still support the death penalty even though it has been proven to be flawed and ineffective. When our country is still murdering people in the name of the law, then the law is wrong, and we as a people are greatly diminished because of it. Sadly, in many ways America is still like many third world countries that we criticize as being barbaric… for we too, are proven barbarians.
Today as I opened the Sacramento Bee, I began eagerly scanning the pages looking for an article and maybe some pictures of the swearing in ceremony, hoping to recapture yesterdays bliss. I couldn’t find anything, not even a mention or a statistic about the number of new citizens. I enquired with a FB friend the works at the Bee… he didn’t know why the paper had quit covering those events, but that he’d been asked by the INS to be a guest speaker at a future event. “That’s great,” I said, “but what about yesterday?” I would have loved to save and frame a small article for Lenka, but I guess 1,200 new citizens isn’t big news these days, or maybe with all the anti-immigration rhetoric, it isn’t welcome news. Mr. President, I hope you’ll join me in apologizing to those new Americans, because their huge achievement deserves some recognition.
Your Gadfly Granny