Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We are proud to be new Americans

We are proud to be new Americans

Deepak Seth • Guest essayist • Rochester Democrat and Chronicle • July 4, 2010

On July 4, 2007, in a piece published in this newspaper, I had written "On Fourth of July I think of Fireworks, Festivities, Family, Food, Fun and much more but most importantly FREEDOM."

Three years down the line that still holds true, as it will for even the next 300-plus years, the cherished ideals of Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness on which the Founding Fathers laid the keel of this great nation continuing to serve as shining beacons all over the globe. What has changed for me and my family though since I wrote that piece is that this year we join the festivities as "new" Americans.

On May 17, 2010, we joined 70-plus individuals from 35-plus countries as newly minted United States citizens in taking the oath of naturalization in a ceremony at RIT. The ceremony was solemn and joyous and the presiding judge reminded us of some of the illustrious footsteps we were now stepping into: Scientist Albert Einstein, Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Henry Kissinger, songwriter Irving Berlin ("God Bless America"), Astronaut Kalpana Chawla etc. The list is long and awe-inspiring, and a reminder that immigrants have been the lifeblood of this great nation.

My thoughts flashed back to the Founding Fathers, who with their sagacity and foresight created a strong foundation in forming the U.S. Constitution, which has withstood the tests of time; and the subsequent leadership at all levels of government which has more often than not consistently placed the nation's interest ahead of their own personal interests to the extent we now take that for granted. Sadly, that is not the situation in many other countries around the globe.

I think of our men and women in uniform who are spending this day in distant lands far away from home. The Red and Blue of the Star-Spangled Banner I am sure shines as bright under the desert sun of Iraq and Afghanistan as it does swaying in the breeze off Lake Ontario, a constant reminder that freedoms earned have to be defended often at the cost of one's own blood.

I salute these heroes and our hometown heroes, but more importantly I salute the PEOPLE of our great nation. The people are what have made the nation great; the voice of the people reflected in our democratic institutions have enabled us to right the wrongs of history and move ahead even as other nations continue to stay mired in the quicksand of the past.

Deepak Seth is a former community member of the Editorial Board.

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