I spent Independence Day sitting in my easy chair watching golf. That’s not unusual for me on a lazy Sunday. The match was interesting and fun to watch. The reason I speak of this is not the golf however. No, this day was different.
David Feherety was one of the commentators on that day. David is a former Irish pro golfer who now is a commentator for both Golf Network and CBS and as such has always been one of my favorites. He is funny and has a tremendous knowledge of the game of golf. Early in this telecast David announced that this would be his first Independence Day as an American citizen. Even though this was America’s birthday, he said it felt like it was his birthday. His excitement was palatable. I cannot quote him but he went on to say things like now he could refer to this country as his country. He could refer to our military as his military too. You could see his pride and you could feel it also. For some time I have been aware of his involvement with the troops and his work with the wounded. I also knew of his plans to become a citizen.
His excitement and his enthusiasm caused me to consider citizenship in this great country. I wake up in the morning and I am a citizen. I go to bed at night and I am still a citizen. It was conferred on me at birth, citizenship of the greatest country on earth. David and others like him have to earn that citizenship.
Unlike many spots on earth, Ireland is not a second rate third world country. Ireland is not a place from which one must escape. There are no torture chambers or heinous laws preventing freedoms which we take for granted. So why did David want to become an American? I suppose he would be the best at answering that question, but I believe it is because he sees America as a shining beacon on a hill. He sees in America a place where all things are possible for those who want to work for it. He sees America as the land of opportunity. I think he sees America as a place where he wants his children to grow up and prosper. Today America is richer for having David Feherty as a new American.
Some would ask me if David was not a white, glib, talented golfer, but instead a poor, black, dirt farmer from some poverty stricken hell hole, would I feel the same. That is a fair question. Here is my answer. I believe David has decided to become an American. He will not live here as an Irishmen in America. No, he will live here as an American. He will for sure bring much of his Irish culture with him to his new country, but he will be an American of Irish descent. David has followed the rules and done it legally. If the poor minority dirt farmer followed the rules and legally came here to become an American, I definitely would feel the same. If the poor, black, farmer wanted to become an American, learned our language, learned our laws, followed the rules, and assimilated into our culture, I would welcome him with the same enthusiasm as I welcome David. Too often however, people come here just to earn money they could not earn in their home countries. They don’t want to become Americans, They just want to make money and send it back home. They are not immigrants. They are guest workers who are often here illegally.
I am tired of Mexican-Americans and Somali-Americans and all other hyphenated-Americans. I am tired of ethnic ghettos and barrios where newcomers come to continue the traditions that they originally tried to escape from. If you want to live in America as an American and you do it legally, you will be welcome. We are a nation of immigrants. We were born as a refuge for immigrants. Nothing has changed. If you come here legally, with ultimate citizenship in mind, the door will be open. If you try to sneak in and jump ahead of the line, hiding with forged documents, and breaking our laws, then the door will be slammed in your face.
Today I want to welcome all the Davids who have become Americans. Our future is brighter because of the contributions they will make.
Ron Scarbro July 11, 2010
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