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July 18, 2008 marked another milestone in my life. Today, I have become a naturalized citizen of America. USA has become not just my home, but my adopted country as well.

The oath-taking ceremony was held in Miami-Dade County auditorium ealier today. It was packed with 1,200 people from 52 different countries — immigrants from all over the world who have come to America to discover the promise of this great Nation. I cannot help but marvel as I looked at the huge multi-cultural, multi-racial group and wonder, “What circumstances made them come to the US“? Whatever they are, I am sure that they are as valid as mine are.

During the program, I struggled as I recited the Oath Of Allegiance. The words brought tears to my eyes as I said….“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty. I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.” ….It was a poignant moment, reminiscent to that of how I felt in the airport 6 years ago, when I left my parents behind to come to the US.

Truth be told, reaching the decision to become a US citizen had not been easy. I was torn in the inside as I have always been proud of my background, proud of my heritage as a Filipino despite the many negative things about my homeland, the Philippines. But like everyone in the group, I have my reasons why I have to take this step; reasons that are worth the sacrifice.

One of those reasons is the very words that I uttered when I got married. During my wedding, I declared to God and to my husband the very same vow that Ruth in the Bible told Naomi “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”… Today, I have fulfilled that vow. I am embracing the country and people of the man that I chose to love and to be with for the rest of my life. For God has called me here to be with him and so shall it be.

So today was a day of mixed emotions, a bittersweet one. I know that in my heart, I will always be a Filipino for God has created me as one and nothing can change that. But I have resolved to love this country, to which I now belong.

I pledge my allegiance to the American flag and to the republic for which it stands.

I am proud to be an American and am grateful to be a part of the history of this nation.

(Read Joe’s take on the Naturalization Ceremony)

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