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Being Grateful For Where We Live

Most of us have good reason to pause and give thanks today. Our families top the list of blessings bestowed upon us, of course.

Something that happened last Friday, right here in Wheeling, is a reminder of one blessing we often overlook, take for granted, or even insist does not exist.

That day, 18 people stood before U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp at the federal courthouse and took the oath of citizenship to the United States of America. Having learned what it means to be an American — gaining in the process more knowledge of our nation than some native to it have — these men and women felt it important not just to live here legally, but to become Americans.

They came from Canada, Mexico, Israel, Belgium, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ghana, Venezuela, China, Costa Rica, Iran and Russia. Why have they chosen to become Americans?

We as a nation have flaws. We make mistakes, sometimes of the heart and sometimes of the head. There are those who never tire of reminding us of that, of insisting our nation isn’t really anything special.

Eighteen people at the courthouse in Wheeling probably would disagree.

So might the approximately 43.8 million people in the United States who were born in other countries. Of that number, not just incidentally, 19.8 million chose to go through the naturalization process to become citizens. Another 11.9 million are lawful permanent residents, while 2.1 million are residing here legally on a temporary basis. Only about 11 million are illegal immigrants, according to the government’s statistics — though some say the number may be twice that.

But the point is this: Of our neighbors in this great land, more than one in eight decided our nation is exceptional enough to come here from other places. About one in 16 revere our country so highly that they chose to become Americans.

What other nation has that power of attraction? Do these still relatively new Americans understand something our nation’s critics do not?

Most people on this planet cannot even dream of the liberties and opportunities we take for granted here. Many of them would fall down on their knees in gratitude if they could only make it to our shores.

Today, then, let us be grateful for our many blessings. Let us recognize that living in the United States of America is one of them.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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