The Most Under-Appreciated Gift

Blog Post 47 American Flag Cristian Ramirez

Photo courtesy of and Cristian Ramirez.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending a naturalization ceremony of one of my friends.  I’d never been to one before, so I didn’t know what to expect.  I saw anticipation mixed with a bundle of excitement, anticipation of a long road ending, excitement in knowing that finally, after many years of waiting, mounds of paperwork, and months of frustration, it was finally happening.  That beautiful day, fifty-eight people from thirty different countries swore allegiance to the United States.

That ceremony made me think.  For those of us who were born here, we take our citizenship for granted.  We use the inherent rights given to us without being asked to provide anything in return.  We can exercise our Second Amendment rights to own guns without being asked to serve in any kind of military or law enforcement capacity.  We women exercise the Nineteenth Amendment when we vote.  The First Amendment covers us every time we speak our minds about an issue or badmouth the government without fear of government reprisal.  We do all of these things without a thought as to what it truly means to be a citizen.

Two major things remain with me from that ceremony.  First, citizenship is a choice.  No one raising their hand and swearing the citizenship oath did so under duress.  They chose to do that.  Second, remember your past.  The woman overseeing the ceremony urged those in attendance not to forget the past that brought them to where they were today and to pay it forward to those who would come after them.

What brought these new citizens to our county?  Some might have had an American spouse.  Others most likely sought a better opportunity for themselves and their children.  Several most likely fled persecution or a homeland torn by war.

That made me think about ways that I take the privilege of my citizenship for granted.

  • I have the right to vote for the people who lead me.  Often, we gripe about politics in this country.  I get that.  I totally do.  Then I remember other places in this world where the notion of voting for a candidate opposing the incumbent is literally taking your life into your hands.
  • I can read, write, or watch anything I want.  The freedom of this country fosters the creative process without fear of persecution.  We can write anything we want, and maybe the worst that will happen to us is a piling on of opinions in social media.  If we’re in this country, we don’t need to fear death whereas in other places like Saudi Arabia, a blogger faced flogging and possible execution for speaking out.
  • I can worship who/how/when I want to.  The freedoms of this county reach to our belief systems.  This government does not dictate a state religion.  We don’t need to fear outright persecution by governments the way some do in other countries such as Christians in Iran.
  • I have total freedom as a woman.  In this country, women have more freedoms than we can ever imagine or appreciate.  We can own our own property, including companies.  We can dress how we want to.  We can choose not to marry or to marry who we wish.  In several countries, women find these options limited to nonexistent because culture dictates that the man rule the household, including the work a woman does and any property she may own.
  • I have the freedom to chart my course.  As a citizen of the United States, I face a life of freedom.  However, with that freedom comes the responsibility to make good choices.  I have the ability to make choices about my education, my career, and my personal life, all of which impact the course I take.  In some countries, family and/or cultural restrictions render this impossible.

I’ll most likely be attending another ceremony in a few weeks.  As I listen to the speech given to the brand new citizens, I can only pray I take these thoughts into consideration.

Question:  What freedoms of this country do you take for granted?

This post does not mention any products.  Therefore, I am not receiving any compensation for writing this post.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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