I, S. B. Woo, was born in Shanghai, China. On my own volition, I applied to become a US citizen. On the day of the naturalization ceremony in 1972, there was deep emotion - internal conflicts, probably not different from those of most others. The enlightening words of the presiding judge, VincentBifferato*helped me understand what being a naturalized citizen was all about. I became a happy American. Here is the essence of what he said.
"Future Fellow Citizens of the U.S.A.,
You probably harbor a mixedfeeling today.You may be happy because you wanted to be a U.S. citizen, and today you've achieved this goal. On the other hand, you may also be sad, because you may feel that you are saying good-bye to all that you once identify with - the people back in your old country, whose hopes and dreams you've shared. You may even be distraught, because years ago when you first came to this country, you thought you were getting an education or a career to later go back to help your people. Now you feel that you are saying good-bye to that part of your dream.
Let me assure you that you don't need to stop caring or helping the people in your old country. If one ceremony, like the one today, can make you turn your back on the people you once cared deeply about, the U.S. doesn't want you as a citizen. The U.S. is a greater nation than that. America, a nation of immigrants, knows that people, who can turn their backs on their people instantly after one ceremony today, can turn their back on Americans after another ceremony in the future. Instant loyalty doesn't imply good citizenship. Take your time to know your new country. Examine America's core values. Experience America's sense of liberty, justice and equal opportunity. I feel certain that you will get to like America and perhaps love it. America is not perfect, and it will need your input and tender-loving care to help make it "a more perfect union" as our forefathers had hoped. ....
Fellow citizens: Now that you are each a citizen of your new country, you owe your primary allegiance to America. However, you can continue to care and help people in your old country. Welcome. Good luck to all of you."
After the ceremony was over, I complimented Judge Bifferato* for his extra-ordinary understanding of human nature which greatly comforted a new citizen like me. He smiled and said that most immigrants, when being naturalized, were comforted to hear they might continue to care for the people of their old country, but naturalized citizens actually "paid a tax" for it - they cannot be the president or the VP of the U.S.A. With a twinkle in his eyes, he said America's forefathers understood human nature deeply, which might be why they came up with one of the best political systems in the world.
Naturalized Citizens Should Know
(a) Some folks change citizenship to derive advantages that come with the citizenship, without shifting their primary allegiance. If we want America to be fair with us, we must be fair with America.
(b) This is a very tough period for Chinese Americans owing to the rising tension between the U.S. and China. Stand firm. Don't give up an inch of your rights. 80-20 will fight for & with you regarding any systemic discrimination. An example is Prof. Anming Hu's case. Click (1) and (2).
*Bifferato & I became good friends. I gave a keynote speech in another naturalization ceremony that he presided over. I, as the Lt. Governor of Delaware, gave a keynote whose content was similar to the above.
Gratefully acknowledging all donors including Alfred and Shirley Foung of Woodland Hill, CA who pledged another $5,000 after sending $5k earlier.