Remembering the Promise and Power of the American Dream on Independence Day

Written by on July 3, 2014 in Integration with 1 Comment

5903971444_a988b7db85_bMore than 200 years ago, our Founding Fathers declared our nation’s independence from England, and ever since, men and women from around the world have sworn to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America” as they become U.S. citizens. The Fourth of July is our annual opportunity to not only remember our founding but the continuing power and promise of the American Dream.

Each year, naturalization ceremonies turn immigrants into new American citizens around Independence Day. The White House will host a naturalization ceremony on Friday for servicemembers who, according to President Obama, “signed up to serve, to sacrifice, potentially to give their lives for the security of this country even though they weren’t yet Americans.” The president added that the immigrants who served in the military “were prepared to fight and die for an America they did not yet fully belong to. I think they’ve earned their stripes in more ways than one.”

And in California, 100 immigrants representing 19 countries celebrated July 4 a little early when they became citizens in a naturalization ceremony in Stanislaus County. President Obama offered a welcome to the new immigrants in a video. “He said this is a land of opportunity, that there is no limit,” Nelson Amrhi, who arrived five years ago, said. “It’s true; if you want to be someone, you can.” And Rep. Jeff Denham told the new citizens, “This is an amazing country. We thank you for adding to the greatness of this great nation.”

There are also those immigrants who never have the opportunity to receive their citizenship despite having made the ultimate sacrifice for their adopted homeland. Jose Gutierrez, a Marine Lance Corporal, was not a U.S. citizen when he died in combat in 2003 but was one of the first servicemembers to be killed in Iraq. According to news reports, his dream had been to become an American so that he could bring his sister to the U.S. Federal officials made him eligible for posthumous citizenship. And there are the millions of immigrants already living the U.S. and contributing to their communities, but without the hope of Congress passing comprehensive immigration reform, there is no path for them to apply for citizenship.

The promise of the American Dream has always served as a beacon of hope to people around the world. We’re celebrating our nation’s birthday and independence this weekend. But in addition to the history, we should also celebrate the immigrants who continue to come here to contribute and enhance our nation and remember the millions who already feel like Americans and are simply waiting for an opportunity to make it official.

Photo by Will Marlow.

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  • Lance

    Let’s face it, this immigration thing is a 20th century issue that has
    slopped over into the 21st century. The time has come to finally resolve it in
    an intelligent fashion, as polls show three-fourths of Americans favor and
    Obama confronts head-on. A new award-winning worldwide book/ebook that helps
    explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is “What Foreigners Need To Know About
    America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government,
    Business, Language and More.” It paints a revealing picture of America for anyone
    who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors,
    educators, and editors, it also informs those who want to learn more about the last
    remaining superpower and how we compare to other nations on many issues.

    As the book points out,
    immigrants and minorities are a major force in America. Immigrants and the
    children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth and
    own 11 percent of US businesses and are 60 percent more likely to start a new
    business than native-born Americans. They represent 17 percent of all new
    business owners (in some states more than 30 percent). Foreign-born business
    owners generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California and
    nearly one-fifth in New York, Florida, and New Jersey. In fact, forty percent
    of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or a child of an
    immigrant, creating 10 million jobs and seven out of ten top brands in our

    More importantly, they come
    to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to
    build upon, as did the author’s grandparents when they landed at Ellis Island
    in 1899 after losing 2 children to disease on a cramped cattle car-like sailing
    from Europe to the Land of Opportunity. Many bring skills and a willingness to
    work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four
    hundred years ago. In describing America, chapter after chapter chronicles “foreigners”
    who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most
    struggle in their efforts and need guidance in Anytown, USA. Perhaps intelligent
    immigration reform, White House/Congress and business/labor cooperation, concerned
    citizens and books like this can extend a helping hand, the same unwavering
    hand, lest we forget, that has been the anchor and lighthouse of American
    values for four hundred years.

    Here’s a closing quote from the
    book’s Intro: “With all of our cultural differences though, you’ll be surprised
    to learn how much…we as human beings have in common on this little third rock
    from the sun. After all, the song played at our Disneyland parks around the
    world is ‘It’s A Small World After All.’ Peace.”