By: Chiqui Raveloski
I have lived here in the United States for the past 27 years as a permanent resident alien. I have been operating under my alien number all these years, and I have to say that it felt "weird" knowing that I am finally letting go of that set of numbers which served as my means of identification and proof that I am a legal resident of this country.
It was a bittersweet moment when I finally surrendered my "green card" to the United States Immigration Officer this morning. This marked as the first step of my oath taking process in becoming a full fledged American citizen in this day of May 15, 2013.
I was seated in my assigned seat inside the room with other future Americans eager to finally take this huge step in our lives. As I sat there, anxiously waiting for the ceremony to begin, family members were finally allowed to enter the same room we were in to celebrate this monumental occasion.
Thoughts of my past 27 years in America began to surface my mind. I am very grateful for all the blessings the Most High have granted me. At the same time, I am also thankful for what America has given me all these years. America has been good to me, even through times when the decisions I have made were not so good. I learned, I forgave, and I went on ro choose paths I can be proud of.
The United States Immigration Officer had us all stand up, raise our right hand, and recite the Oath Of Allegiance. Tears started rolling down my face and I am not really sure why. Yet, the only thing I can think of was that the future looks even brighter than ever before. More opportunities to explore, more rights to exercise, and possibilities are endless.
As I move forward as an American, I cannot help but to look back where I came from. This is my country of origin, the Philippines, where it all began. This country will always remain as my roots. The culture and tradition I have learned from this exquisite country is what I have, and can bring to the table. America is truly beautiful because it is full of different faces, different cultures, different minds, and different strengths. Yet, the true beauty lies within the rights of each citizen, The right for.life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.