Closing Out the Fourth: Hold Your Head Up High

Just got back from dinner at the Common Man in Windham, celebrating with the Spousal Unit on the fortieth anniversary of our first date. All of our friends & housemates were out of town (mostly off to work on Iggycon prep), so we walked down to watch the local fireworks together…

Congratulations, and many happy returns, to intrepid blogger & commentor Schrodinger’s Cat on her anniversary:

A year ago I became a United States citizen

The Federal District Court judge, who administered the oath urged us to do our duty as citizens by getting involved in civic life as he welcomed us as new citizens. He told us to vote and even run for office. He acknowledged our countries of birth, and how our upbringing had made us the individuals that we were. I was moved and I felt a sense of awe and wonder that I had not expected.

The entire naturalization ceremony reminded me very much of a wedding ceremony, there was a legal binding ceremony with a judge and an oath, there were witnesses. It felt like I had finally made my relationship with America official and permanent. There is no going back now. Our relationship is signed and sealed.

I believe in the promise of America, the power of the individual to change their destiny. That you are not limited by the circumstances of your birth. If you can dream it, you can do it. It was in early January that I decided that I would apply for naturalization. I sent in my application on January 19th. I had always felt like I belonged here, this was the time to make it count. Do my bit. The ideal that we were all created equal is a principle worth fighting for. The American ideal is worth fighting for.

And Ken White re-upped his own favorite July 4th story:

One hot summer in the early nineties, I was working for Judge Ronald S.W. Lew, a federal judge in Los Angeles. One day in early July he abruptly walked into my office and said without preamble “Get your coat.” Somewhat concerned that I was about to be shown the door, I grabbed my blazer and followed him out of chambers into the hallway. I saw he had already assembled his two law clerks and his other summer extern there. Exchanging puzzled glances, we followed him into the art-deco judge’s elevator, then into the cavernous judicial parking garage. He piled us into his spotless Cadillac and drove out of the garage without another word.

Within ten awkward, quiet minutes we arrived at one of the largest VFW posts in Los Angeles. Great throngs of people, dressed in Sunday best, were filing into the building. It was clear that they were families — babes in arms, small children running about, young and middle-aged parents. And in each family group there was a man — an elderly man, dressed in a military uniform, many stooped with age but all with the bearing of men who belonged in that VFW hall. They were all, I would learn later, Filipinos. Their children and grandchildren were Filipino-American; they were not. Yet…

… These men, born Filipinos, answered America’s call in World War II and fought for us. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the men of the Philippines to fight, promising them United States citizenship and veterans benefits in return. 200,000 fought. Tens of thousands died. They weathered the brutal conditions under Japanese occupation, fought a valiant guerrilla war, and in some cases survived the Bataan death march.

In 1946, Congress reneged on FDR’s promise. Filipino solders who fought for us and their families were not given their promised citizenship, let alone benefits. Many came hear anyway, had children who were born U.S. citizens, and some even became citizens through the process available to any immigrant. But many others, remembering the promise, asked that it be kept. And they waited…

I had the opportunity to congratulate a number of families and hear them greet Judge Lew. I heard expressions of great satisfaction. I heard more comments about how long they had waited. But I did not hear bitterness on this day. These men and their children had good cause to be bitter, and perhaps on other days they indulged in it. On this day they were proud to be Americans at last. Without forgetting the wrongs that had been done to them, they believed in an America that was more of the sum of its wrongs. Without forgetting 54 years of injustice, they believed in an America that had the potential to transcend its injustices. I don’t know if these men forgave the Congress that betrayed them and dishonored their service in 1946, or the subsequent Congresses and administrations to weak or indifferent to remedy that wrong. I don’t think that I could expect them to do so. But whether or not they forgave the sins of America, they loved the sinner, and were obviously enormously proud to become her citizens…

We are not perfect. It is our eternal obligation, as citizens, to work towards being better.

26 replies
  1. 1
    NotMax says:

    …to form a more perfect union&8230;

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  2. 2
    NotMax says:

    Crap. Fix.

    …to form a more perfect union…

    ReplyReply
  3. 3
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks for this story.

    ReplyReply
  4. 4
    Mary G says:

    America is lucky to have you, Schrodinger’s Cat. Citizenship ceremonies are fun and solemn at the same time.

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  5. 5
    Brachiator says:

    I love these stories. Trump and people like him want to freeze America into a false image of what used to be. But the people who most love this country and who most believe in it are part of an ongoing adventure to make the country better, and who add immeasurably to it by their faith and courage.

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  6. 6
    Tenar Arha says:

    One of my better 4th of July experiences ever, was the time my mother got us all on a harbor cruise for the 4th following in the wake of the Constitution’s annual turnaround cruise of Boston Harbor. It was a rare privilege getting to “see” from a boat nearby the a group of new citizens being sworn in on its decks.

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  7. 7
    Ruckus says:

    Welcome Ms Cat and welcome to all the other new citizens. As well as those hoping to be someday. It takes forever, it never seems easy but most seem to think it’s worth it. We should be proud that people will walk hundreds of miles and endure layer upon layer of bullshit to be called citizens. Yet our work is not done and never will be. We are a country. We have our faults, boy do we have our faults. We are seeing them up close and way too personal right now but they really haven’t been in hiding, we just haven’t been looking. We’ve made a lot of progress in the last 50-60 yrs, yet in ways it looks like we’ve made none. People still die without healthcare, without homes, without dignity. We kidnap children from their parent(s), we jail them and we have a power system that not only doesn’t give a fuck but revels in their misery. This seems like the low point politically in my lifetime, even as I know there have been others. Our system does make it more difficult for one party to get to this level of power that all 3 branches of government are sadistic, racist, assholes, so they embraced the help of one of our enemies, someone even more sadistic, racist and a much larger asshole.
    So we are at a crossroads in our countries life. Take the better road, make a difference, demand better. For everyone. It helps us all when we demand better, rather than worse. My decades tell me that is what this country is supposed to be about, being better, not being the same old monarchy, dictatorship or worse. A place we can be proud to call home, to invite people to emulate, to show that humans can be better than their worst.

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  8. 8
    Amir Khalid says:

    Closing Out the Fourth: Hold Your Head Up High

    … And Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

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  9. 9
    Mnemosyne says:

    Okay, totally changing the subject to be all about ME and MY NEEDS, but it is an open thread …

    Does anyone have a recommendation for inexpensive web hosting? Catherine D recommended Pantheon, but $35/month is too expensive for me right now. I’m looking for something in the $10/month or under range. Google Domains was steering me to Bluehost, but Miss Bianca was unhappy with their spotty tech support.

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  10. 10
    Redshift says:

    Had a pretty good Fourth. Relaxed around the house (which I really needed) until the worst of the heat was past, then went to friends’ party for a few hours. Then went to watch the fireworks in DC on the very nice roof of another friend’s apartment building in Alexandria. I’ve those were done, we could see what appeared to be no less than eight other fireworks displays in Maryland.

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  11. 11
    Lokahi says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’ve used Tiger Technologies for almost 20 years, have never had an issue their tech support couldn’t quickly resolve, and have referred many without, to my knowledge, any complaints. Their plans start at $9.95, they’re headquartered in Berkeley, and handle support there.

    ReplyReply
  12. 12
    Yarrow says:

    @Mnemosyne: Cole has spoken highly of Hosting Matters, which hosts Balloon-Juice. Their ad on this very page says they start at $9.95/month. You can click through from the ad. I’m sure John or Alain would be happy to offer more info. Maybe they even have a refer-a-friend deal or something.

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  13. 13
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Lokahi:

    Thanks, I’ll put them on my list. I already bought my domain name from Google Domains, but I’m assuming that’s not a problem? 🤔

    ReplyReply
  14. 14

    Congratulations on your first anniversary Schrodinger’s Cat!

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  15. 15
    L85NJGT says:

    General Guy Fort

    Guy O. Fort (January 1, 1879 – November 11, 1942) was a brigadier general in the Philippine Army under the control of the United States Army Forces in the Far East. Fort led the 81st Division (Philippines) during the initial Battle of the Philippines. Ordered by his higher command to surrender, Fort was taken prisoner by Japanese forces. His captors demanded Fort help persuade his former soldiers engaged in guerrilla warfare to stop resisting the occupation. Fort refused and was executed by firing squad. Fort is the only American-born general officer to be executed by enemy forces.

    Fort regularly wrote home to family in Gloversville, and during the 1930s said he considered retiring and returning to the United States. However, he lacked a copy of his birth certificate and was unsure if he’d be allowed back, or if he could find a job during the Great Depression.

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  16. 16
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Amir Khalid: Not a fan of Carousel, or soccer, but I always thought that was a great anthem for religious Cynics like me…

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  17. 17

    When did it become a thing to do DYI fireworks in the city? Every fucking time I get the poor cocker calmed down one of my fine fucking neighbors fires up another one. I HATE THE 4TH OF JULY!

    ETA: I’m masking most of the noise by playing The Beatles Anthology, but the close ones are still a problem.

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  19. 19
    NotMax says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA

    Absolutely unprecedented that haven’t heard bang one yet. Of course, still before sunset. Even so, usually hear things being set off for a couple of days before and also after. People next door usually have an enormous and noisy display – haven’t gone outside to see if they’ve got the tents set up they usually do.

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  20. 20

    @NotMax: They’re still going off here, though not as close now.

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  21. 21
    Anne Laurie says:

    @NotMax: Perhaps the volcanoes spewing rivers of fire might’ve put them off their game?

    ReplyReply
  22. 22
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    Just the one volcano. Different island altogether and about as far away in miles from where I sit as Albany is from B0ston.

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  23. 23
    Anne Laurie says:

    @NotMax: I know (that much), but I figured the news coverage might’ve given the pyromaniacs an inferiority complex…

    ReplyReply
  24. 24

    @Anne Laurie: Thanks AL for FP my blog post.

    ReplyReply
  25. 25
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Mnemosyne: Why not the BJ blog host, Hosting Matters?

    ReplyReply
  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    I’m not sure if our current commenting woes should be laid at their doorstep or not.

    ReplyReply

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