My mother moved to the United States from Sweden to attend college. She became a United States citizen decades later, when I was eight years old. I have vivid memories of the celebration our family held on the occasion — lots of American flags, cakes with bald eagles, and Uncle Sam top hats.
More than that, I remember the conversations she and I had about the value and importance of American citizenship. The United States had always represented to her a nation of collective opportunity, individual choice. It is a land of in which we all responsibility for each other’s wellbeing so that we may each attain and enjoy success in our own ways. She and I hold her native land in the highest regard, but the possibilities and quality of life contained in the American promise are priceless beyond words.
My mother was a public teacher for over 30 years before retiring a few years ago. My story is her story, and the story of all who seek the kind of freedom and fulfillment of being — of becoming — Americans.