Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let Freedom Ring!

On this, the seventh anniversary of a terrible tragedy, I have hope.

Each year, as the calendar flips to September, I start counting down the days. I remember what I was doing when I first heard the planes hit, when I heard the towers fell, when I heard the Pentagon was under attack, when I heard yet another plane went down in a field. I remember the sun shining so brightly that day, in contrast to the pain in my heart. I remember falling into Chris' arms when I arrived home in the evening, and falling to my knees in prayer.

The world changed on that awful day. I was oblivious to much of the danger and hate in our world. But now we are ALL painfully aware of messy politics and religion and humanity. My daughter will forever grow up in this, thinking it is normal. As American citizens, it's now normal to worry about security at the Super Bowl, normal to see soldiers at the airport, normal to glance with wariness at an airplane in the sky which seems just a little too close.

However, a citizen is about to be added to our ranks. My brother-in-law, Muhammad Mashiur Rahman, also known as Jyoti and Uncle Joe, passed a test yesterday to allow him to become a United States citizen. Jyoti was born and grew up in poverty-stricken Bangladesh. His parents were educators, and understood the great value of knowledge. As a child he read about America, listened to our music, and studied our language. From an uncle, he heard about the great opportunities in the United States. Jyoti yearned to make a life here.

But it wasn't simple. Everyone in the world wants to live in the USA. Jyoti had to take an English-proficency test (the TOEFL) for admission to college. He had to borrow money from his family, to show he could support himself here. He had to apply and interview for a visa. And he had quite a bit of luck to be accepted into our country.

So he arrived, attended college, met my sister at a fraternity party, graduated, moved to New York and California and now Missouri to be with Rachel. They just celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary. And all the while, he has been in LOVE with America. He loves the people, the democratic process, the hope and opportunity. He has built a wonderful life with my sister here, complete with a house and a dog and tickets to Cardinals games.

And our Uncle Joe is a Muslim. He was raised in a Muslim family by loving parents. (I've met them, so I know how great they really are. They still send me Christmas cards, all the way across the world, each year.) Religion is an important part of who he is, which is why I even mention it. But he's not a fanatic, just a normal man like most Muslims. He celebrates Christian religious holidays and has even attended church with us on occasion.

Next Friday, I will have the honor of watching Jyoti as he is sworn in as a United States Citizen. For the first time, he will have an American passport. He will vote in his very first Presidential election. He will have all of the freedoms that come with citizenship, but I assure you he will not take them for granted.

On an anniversary when intolerant and hateful people tried to change our nation, I can sincerely say they haven't. Fellow Americans, Jyoti feels blessed to be a part of our great country. But I think we are the lucky ones. We are welcoming a freedom-loving, flag-waving man into our ranks. He's as American as the baseball games he loves so much.

15 comments:

Haasiegirl said...

aww, that gave me chills. Congrats to him and I am glad such a wonderful new citizen is part of this great country

trisha

Fiona said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I teach American history, and it's so nice to see people today engaged in the act of remembering. The way you've mixed the past with the important things about our present feels just right to me.

And congratulations to your brother-in-law. It sounds like the union of two nice families.

Scarlet O'Kara said...

Beautiful post...

Blessing to your brother-in-law. Our country is blessed to have him in our fold.

Greg B said...

That was really moving, by the way.

Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) said...

Such a powerful post. Thank you for sharing such important reminders. As a Canadian, I still share your sentiments.

Heather said...

This was a great post. I think you should print this out for him...:)

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

Really inspiring post! Congratulations to your brother in law!

Joyce-Anne said...

I popped over from Momisodes and just wanted to offer my congratulations to your brother in law.

Mekhismom said...

Oh what a wonderful story. I wish everyone had the opportunity to meet people like your Brother-in-law.

Heather said...

Tag. You are it.

HUB said...

Sarah, you really write well! That was quite a tribute to our wonderful country and more importantly to Jyoti, a soon to be citizen of the USA. I am so happy for him. We take so much for granted - but when you here about our country from Jyoti's perspective it makes you so aware of what we have!!!!!

Killlashandra said...

Congratulations to Jyoti! That is a huge thing to swear in and hard road to get to too. Great post!

Momma said...

beautiful post! reading about your bro-in-law gave me chills. congrats to him on becoming a citizen. It is nice to read about somebody else's perspective on our country. To often we have a negative opinion about what is going on, but we really do live in a great place.

Kelsey said...

Aww I love this post!

Shari Baby said...

that is touching, sar...congrats to jyoti!