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Proud to Be a Citizen and Proud of His Homeland : Immigrants: As a permanent and legal resident, why should one wish to acquire citizenship? The reasons abound.

Yi-ling Wang is a writer residing in Irvine

I was recently naturalized to be a citizen of the United States of America. Finally, my lifelong dream of becoming a formal member of this “land of the free and home of the brave.”

The “Pledge of Allegiance” to me was not mere formality but straight from the depths of my heart. Even before I obtained the status of citizenship, I had for many years been no less loyal to this country than any other U.S. citizen.

As early as the Korean War, when I was in Shanghai newly “liberated” by Communists, listening to the Voice of America became my greatest daily comfort. Later, during the Vietnam War, under even much tougher political conditions, I risked severe punishment to continue listening to the VOA. Both in sentiment and in reason, I tacitly sided with the U.S. and lamented the loss of any part of the Free World.

Have I ever felt guilty for my feelings? Not at all. Never in a single moment have I ceased to love China, the land of my birth and my people; it is the totalitarian system that I find repugnant.

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In China, quitting one’s native land, particularly for political reasons, can be traced back thousands of years to Confucius, who traveled around to many different states and accepted ministerial jobs wherever they were offered. In the two millennia after Confucius, numerous Chinese immigrated worldwide. With few exceptions, Chinese merge easily with the indigenous inhabitants and contribute to the well-being of their adopted countries.

With this historical background, I have no difficulty in identifying myself with my new country. Nevertheless, for quite a long period, I questioned the necessity of going through the process of naturalization. As a permanent resident legally allowed to work and to stay here, why should one wish to acquire citizenship?

Moreover, the passport issued by the native country, which an alien is supposed to possess, could at least serve as some kind of anodyne to nostalgia. But even this last excuse was utterly shattered by the result of power-holders in China becoming more and more adulatory to foreigners and discriminatory against their own people.

In this anomalous reality, those who are in possession of U.S. passports enjoy full convenience, liberty, and security to travel around both sides of the Taiwan Strait, while the Chinese people are comparatively looked down upon in their motherland and even encounter inconveniences in transiting Hong Kong or Japan. So what sense does it make to reject the opportunity of being a U.S. citizen?

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Although the land which is geographically called “China” still exists, it has been totally foreign to real Chinese since it came under the rule of communism. However, China as a civilization will certainly last forever and can never be annihilated by any power, including Communists.

It is true as well as ironic that nowadays whoever wishes to preserve the traditional Chinese values and moral concepts risks persecution in China mainland but is perfectly safe in U.S.A., which is dedicated to extend liberty and justice for all.

I think I owe a lot to those forefathers who drafted the Bill of Rights 200 years ago. Today, I enjoy the fruits of their work.

By taking the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, one claims for one’s self the God-given, inalienable rights which that sacred document sets forth as the natural right of all men. As a matter of fact, the greatness of this country is dependent on all the immigrants upholding their own national values.

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So I can rest assured that under the protection of the U.S. laws, I can live and think freely, in the Chinese tradition. That is why I am proud to be a U.S. citizen while I am equally proud of my ancestors.


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