To the Editor:
I beg to differ with you, sir. I remember quite vividly when my mother went before the judge in Washington state in 1948. I was in the third grade and neither of my parents spoke fluent English, and I can remember sitting at the kitchen table for hours going over questions like how many branches of Government are there and name the branches of Government; How many Supreme Court Justices made up the Supreme Court and name the Chief Justice; Name the Governor of our state and name the Senators representing our state;
Questions about our Constitution and the Bill Rights. She studied for two years before going before the Judge. I remember the joy she had now that she was an American citizen. This was a family challenge and goal to have both parents get their citizen papers. I remember the pride that Mom and Dad had when they would tell our Greek friends that they passed the test, that they were now both citizens of this great country.
As I became older, like 7th and 8th grade, mom would question me on our State Governor and ask if I knew who the State Supreme Court Justice was and when I would tell her that I didn’t know, she would question me on being more attentive in school and learning the lessons that teachers were teaching. She didn’t believe me when I told her teachers never taught those subjects to 7th graders. Being born first generation, I personally went through a generational problem of trying to find my own identity – I wondered if I was Greek or was I American.
This problem worked itself out after I went in the Army and was stationed in Germany. I took my leave and went to Greece and found my grandfather, grandmother, and many cousins. After I came back from the service I realized that I was an individual and I was an American of Greek descent – this was my motherland.
My mother and my father always cherished their motherland and my mother would always tell me that a lot of things they left behind they missed, like the values, the love of the people, the ethics of the people in the villages, and the love and kindness of the relatives and people of the villages. Mom travelled to the old country four or five times, the last time being in 1981. When she returned to the USA, I went to New York to meet her and travel back to Washington State.
As we were flying home, she made these comments to me. ”Greece has changed, it is not the same as I remembered, the young people have changed.” I said Mom, you are right, but this is what they call progress. She looked at me and shocked me, when she said, “this is now my home.” I said, “Mom, you earned the right to call America your home you paid your dues.” Thank you,
(Response to The U.S. Citizenship Test)