An Immigrant’s Story
By Josephine Wang
The setting was a courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, where new immigrants were sworn in as American citizens. This ceremony is probably repeated every day, somewhere in America.
In 1953, the United States of America was still savoring the sweetness of the World War II victory over tyranny. General Dwight Eisenhower was regarded as the conquering hero who deserved to be our 34th president. The Times Square photo of the sailor kissing a white uniformed nurse became an iconic example of the joyful and patriotic sentiments of that era.
In 1957, my oldest brother Christopher Chang arrived in New York and was drafted almost immediately into the 4th Armored Division of the United States Army. Upon completing his basic training in Texas, his company was deployed to Germany. Meanwhile, his siblings and parents were waiting in Hong Kong to be admitted as intellectual refugees under President Eisenhower’s Refugee Relief Act of 1953.
I became an American citizen in 1964, along with my parents and siblings. At that time, America had a quota system that governed the number of immigrants who would be admitted into this country. Those who had marketable skills and no disease were preferred. When you fast-forward to 2019, what has changed since the 50s? Too much to mention here … Coming to this country legally is the right way to do it, but recently this has not been the case for those who have committed crimes in order to set foot in America.
The current situation regarding immigration to America is reminiscent of the proverb, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” which means that when you visit another country, it is wise to observe the culture of those who live there. It appears that some recent immigrants to America don’t believe that they have arrived in “Rome,” which has led to their demanding changes to suit their habits.
As for this immigrant, I have assimilated as much as one can without completely losing the mother country’s language, her culture of filial piety and respect for authority.
One glance at Robert Frost’s poem,” Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” is an automatic reminder that a person has “...miles to go before I sleep.” This statement applies to our country and its recent immigrants. Good things will come with hard work, patience and persistence.
As an immigrant who became a citizen of this great country many years ago, I have some suggestions for those who have recently come to America legally:
- Learn English, get the highest degree offered at the universities, try to blend in, obey the laws and contribute your Three T’s: time, talent and treasure!
- If this were not such a great country, people wouldn’t be waiting in line to get in or break in! The Founding Fathers rejected a monarchy and decided to form a more perfect union, which became the USA! Fundamentally, it’s in excellent condition with some minor/major repair, depending on the geographic area.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once said, “We’ve always been held together by the belief that it’s not where you came from. It matters where you’re going.”
One more inspirational quote from a football coach: “Winning isn’t everything – It’s the only thing.” While this sentiment has been widely attributed to Green Bay Packers/Washington Redskins coach Vince Lombardi, it was actually first uttered by UCLA coach Henry “Red” Sanders.
With that, let’s all be winners in this Best Country on Earth! In case you find a better one, we’re all prepared to follow you!