July 5, 2008
President Bush took the time to attend the July 4 naturalization ceremonies that were held at Monticello, just outside Charlottesville, as 72 new American citizens swore their oath of allegiance to the U.S.A. It was the 46th year that Monticello has hosted this combined Independence Day celebration and citizenship rites. As reported by the News Leader, Bush told the new Americans, who come from 30 different countries:
But you all have one thing in common, and that is a shared love of freedom. This love of liberty is what binds our nation together. And this is the love that makes us all Americans.
That article featured one of those new citizens who lives in Staunton: Estrella Carne, whom I happen to know as the wife of Patrick Carne. She is from the Philippines, which is where they met. They are a wonderful family, with a bright son, and are very active in a variety of community organizations such as St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. Patrick served as Secretary of the Staunton Republican Committee from 2006 until early 2007, after which I was elected to that post. But that's another story, and a very long one at that...
[The ceremonies at Monticello were marred slightly by the presence of a few hostile demonstrators, exercising their First Amendment rights to be total jerks. They were escorted off the premises. The otherwise-splendid July 4 event was also covered in the Washington Post, page A2!] If you want to protest the war, that's fine, but calling the President of the United States a criminal is just asinine.
These naturalization ceremonies have a special meaning for Jacqueline and me, as we went through the same thing at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, back in 2002 . It was one of the proudest moments of our lives. It is hard not to get emotional when you witness the rites. It reminds you of how treasured U.S. citizenship is, and how hard people have to work to go through the whole process. It's too bad that many Americans and others who make excuses for illegal immigrants don't respect the rights that come with U.S. citizenship, which is a supreme privilege -- not an automatic entitlement.
Former Senator Jesse Helms passed away at the age of 86. His political career could be considered a case study in Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy." During the 1960s he scorned the civil rights movement, and in 1970 he switched from the Democrats to the Republicans. In 1972 he was elected in an upset to the U.S. Senate, where he served for five terms, until 2002. He was a major force behind the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, and more specifically the growing emphasis in the Republican Party toward social conservatism. He was one of the first to use negative TV attack ads, earning a reputation as a polarizing figure. See Washington Post. He wasn't my favorite Republican, but I'm convinced he was sincere in his beliefs, and I agreed with him on most of the issues. The Grand Old Party owes him recognition for all he did on its behalf.