After six and a half years of living in Georgia (plus another two spent in North Carolina for grad school) I finally became a United States citizen today, along with 160 other immigrants from 63 countries who were part of the same ceremony in Atlanta.
I grew up in a part of Canada where people are generally suspicious of Americans and I don’t expect everyone to understand why I decided to apply for citizenship. I also have some Canadian friends who have lived in the US for longer than I have who haven’t applied and may not ever. I can understand that choice, but I thought I’d explain my decision here. I wanted to become an american citizen because:
- In all likelihood I’ll live in this country the rest of my life. It’s been good to me, giving me a wife, a son and another baby on the way, a career that I love, and a place to call home. I have been blessed while living in this country and it seems plain rude not want to be a citizen of it.
- I’ll always be from PEI, but I lived in roughly 20 different houses, dorms, and apartments in 10 different cities and towns before moving to Atlanta. We’ve owned our house for just shy of five years, making it the second-longest I’ve lived in any one residence. This is where I’ve put down roots. Atlanta is just as much home to me as PEI is.
- My son has dual citizenship by virtue of being born in the US and having a Canadian father and his sibling will also be a dual citizen. At some point they’ll be old enough to understand citizenship and I don’t know what I’d tell them if they asked why I never wanted to be an American like them. I simply wouldn’t have an answer.
- The right to vote is extremely important to me. Knowing I’m here for the long haul I want to play a role in determining who governs this country, this state, and this county.
For the record, the United States government does not recognize dual citizenship but the Canadian government does. In the eyes of the American government I’m only a US citizen but in the eyes of the Canadian government I’m both Canadian and American.
The ceremony itself was well done and included some remarks from a government official, a few short videos, a message from the president, the oath, the pledge of allegiance, recognition of the 63 countries represented by the new citizens, and it all capped off with this a video set to Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA.
There was also an applicant wearing bright red pants, a bright blue blazer, white shirt, and white hat with a stars and stripes ribbon on it. Today was clearly a big deal for her, as it should have been.