Freedom and Justice for All

Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the swearing in of 50 new Americans.  This year, I will once again participate in this inspirational process as people from around the world stand before a local judge and promise to take on the responsibilities that many of us never think about.  

The oath that each new citizen says is:

"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."

Last year, I wrote that perhaps it should be mandatory for all students, before graduating from high school, to raise their hands to pledge to protect and uphold the freedom we enjoy before receiving their diplomas.  Perhaps, this would help to make them more mindful citizens.  Citizens that got out and voted. Citizens that realized that their voices counted.  Citizens that stood up for what was right, rather than what was popular.

Being "American" isn't about wearing red, white and blue, or tooling around in a truck decked out in flags, or even recognizing the sacrifices of others.  Being an American is witnessing and celebrating the millions of acts of courage, patriotism, compassion and creativity that are performed daily.  Being an American is realizing that we are a Nation great because of its diversity; that we do not have to be the same to love this country or each other.  Being an American is seeing the pain and suffering caused by oppression and making a stand against it, regardless of whether it occurs in the bedroom, the boardroom, another country or within the very walls of Congress. 

As we celebrate this July 4th, may we begin the day in thanksgiving for all those who came before us, sacrificing to make this country great.  May we continue through our day remembering that hard-work, creativity, courage, trust, and compassion are the foundations of our Nation.



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