Sunday, April 30, 2006

Milblogs - citizenship

Each week Freedmanslife brings you a posting from the fascinating world of the Milblog (military weblog). This week's article comes from A Mobilized Year, and is another fine example of how Coalition troops actually have two brain cells to rub together, contrary to popular belief. It also shows a commitment to passing certain values on to Iraq, other than a mere pimp-whore relationship for their natural resources...

"I hereby declare, on oath,
-that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;
-that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
-that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
-that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;
-that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law;
-that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and
-that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;
so help me God."
It was a proud day when I heard that the other week. It’s the oath to become a citizen of the United States. Almost sixty U.S. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen who were born in such places as the Bahamas, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, Romania, India, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Germany, Poland, Vietnam, Burma, and more than a dozen other countries, took that oath to become Naturalized U.S. Citizens.

The oath itself has been of some controversy over the years (wouldn’t you expect any type of oath to be in a pluralistic society?). The line "so help me God" is optional and, as you might have guessed, sometimes the lines "that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;" and “that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law;” are omitted as well, if the prospective citizen can prove such commitments are in violation of his or her religion.

Naturalized citizens and natural-born citizens (those who became citizen at birth) share the exact same rights as citizens, except that only natural-born citizens can become U.S. President (sorry Arnold). Compare that with the 18 levels of citizenship that I’m told exist in Kuwait.

After years of attempting to become a U.S. citizen, one of my soldiers was granted his wish. He’s told me stories of his life growing up in Kenya and his struggles since he entered the United States in the mid-90s. The possibility of deportation proceedings was looming when we got the notice of our mobilization to the Middle East. Even though this soldier had a wife and child in the United States that he would have to leave for more than a year, he was very pleased when we got the mobilization order because he knew it created a clear route to citizenship and long-term stability for his young family.

Experiencing with my soldier the wonders of gaining citizenship has helped shape some of my thoughts on the immigration issues that seem so controversial now back in the States. I don’t pretend to have the answers for all the complicated immigration questions and issues that our representatives currently face. However, I am pleased that we as a nation face them though because it shows that we are a great nation worthy of immigration. It is also another opportunity for us to do what is right and demonstrate to ourselves and the World that we adhere to the principles upon which we were founded and for which we stand.

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