Saturday, April 19, 2008

Proud to be an American

As some of you know, my family has been fortunate to have the most wonderful woman in our lives for three decades. Graciela Ayala has been taking loving care of me, my grandparents, my Mother (whom she regarded as a sister), and now my Father for as long as I can remember with grace, style, and fullness of heart. Today, Tuesday, April 15, 2008, she was sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America. I could not be more proud. She is 70 years old and would not have had to do this, but she felt that it was time she did it to, in her words, thank the country that has done so much for her. She is honest, hard-working, and dedicated—the kind of immigrant who, when the conversation turns to overarching policy debates, makes you rethink your position. Moreover, she and her husband have reared three wonderful children who are bright, hardworking contributors to society. Her son Isaac, for example, got a full engineering scholarship to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and now consults all over the world (Japan, Germany, etc.) for a major international engineering firm. It is an honor and a privilege to know her and love her. When I told her that my Father and I wanted to give her something special to mark her citizenship and asked her what she would like, she replied, “An American flag, so that I can wrap myself in it, and kiss it, and be reminded of how much this country has done for me and my family.” I honestly got choked up. God bless America!

As a lesser point of interest, she studied her brains out for weeks for the citizenship test, and at the end of the day they only asked her five questions, most of which follow:

1) Who lives in the White House?

2) Who takes over if the President is incapacitated?

3) How many stars are there on the American flag, and what do they represent?

4) How many stripes are there on the American flag, and what do they represent?

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