Welcome New American Citizens

Yesterday I witnessed an amazing thing, a group of people being sworn in as new American citizens.  They followed the rules and did what was asked of them to join the ranks of legal US Citizens.  Regardless of whether you watched those sworn in on the deck of Old Iron Side or those in Iraq who in order to become US Citizens put their lives on the line on our behalf, each ceremony was equally as moving and wonderful.

Having watched them it amazes me how some people and some politicians such as McCain who was present at one such ceremony, could then spit in the fact of those same immigrants who followed the rules and did what was asked of them by saying we should also grant citizenship to those who came here illegally and who have shown no such regards to our rules and regulations.

Those who were sworn in yesterday took the time to learn about our great nation and have shown a desire to become American.  Sadly I would suspect those new immigrants have shown more respect and now poses a greater knowledge about this country and its rules then many American Citizens born here do.

In Canada a poll was conducted and in fact 60% of their own citizens would have flunked the very test new immigrants there are required to take.  I would believe America to be fairly close to that as well.

Now those of you reading this site I would suspect to have a greater knowledge about government and American history then most Americans in general as many do not even take the time to read up on the events discussed on sites such as this one.  But never the less I would like to share a couple questions taken from the civic lesson booklet prepared for those seeking to become citizens (numbers correspond to those in the booklet).  These aren't the hardest questions asked, only those I find the most interesting.  I've highlighted portions of interest for one reason or another.

Question 9: What do we celebrate on the 4th of July?
Answer 9: Independence Day
Congress voted for the United States to become independent from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. However, we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th. This is because it took two days for Congress to vote to accept an official Declaration of Independence. This Declaration was written by Thomas Jefferson and edited by Congress. It explained why the American colonies were separating from their British ruler. The 4th of July is now considered to be the birthday of America. We celebrate with parades, fireworks, the playing of patriotic songs, and live readings of the Declaration of Independence.

Question 34: What is the supreme law of the United
Answer 34: The Constitution
The government set up by the Constitution is based on the consent, or agreement, of the governed. The introduction to the Constitution reflects this idea. This introduction is called the Preamble. It states that “We the People” establish the Constitution. The actual system of the U.S. government is a representative democracy. The Constitution also reflects the idea of consent of the governed. The “governed”—all U.S. citizens—choose representatives to make the nation’s laws and a president to lead the executive branch.

Question 35: What is the Bill of Rights?
Answer 35: The first 10 amendments to the Constitution
When the Constitution was first written, it did not focus on individual rights [Note: this is an important statement in conjunction with question 54 and 56]. Its goal was to create the system and structure of government. Many Americans, including a group called the Anti-Federalists, wanted a specific list of things the government could not do. James Madison responded with a list of individual rights and limits of government. Some of these included citizens’ rights to practice their religion freely, to speak and publish freely, and to complain publicly about anything they wanted. The list was in the form of changes, or Amendments, to the Constitution. These Amendments were ratified in 1791. They soon became known as the Bill of Rights.

Question 41: Who said, “Give me liberty or give me
Answer 41: Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was a fiery leader of the American Revolution. Before U.S. independence, he spoke out for colonial rights
within the Virginia legislature. Henry represented Virginia in both the First and Second Continental Congresses. He helped push the colonies toward independence. In 1775, when the Revolutionary War began, Henry convinced Virginia to join the colonists’ side. Later he became the first governor of Virginia.

Question 45: Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Answer 45: A civil rights leader
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil rights hero. During his short life he did much to make America a
more fair, tolerant, and equal nation. He was the main leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
Because of this movement, civil rights laws that protected voting rights and ended segregation were passed. King believed in the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. He advanced the idea that every citizen deserves America’s promise of
equality and justice.

Question 50: Why did the Pilgrims come to America?
Answer 50: To gain religious freedom
In the early 1600s, the Pilgrims left England. They first went to Holland, where they lived for a few years, then America.
Many English settlers sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the American colonies during the 17th century. Many came for political freedom or, like the Pilgrims, the right to practice their religion. Others came because of economic opportunity.
These freedoms and opportunities often did not exist in the home countries of these settlers. For them, the American colonies meant a new chance in life and the freedom to live as they wanted.

Question 54: Who was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence?
Answer 54: Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson was a Virginia lawyer and planter when he wrote the Declaration in 1776. He would become a very important political leader and thinker. Before becoming President, he was the governor of Virginia and the first U.S. Secretary of State. Jefferson strongly supported individual rights, especially freedom of religion. Because he wanted to protect these rights, Jefferson opposed a strong national government. Instead, he argued for states’ rights. He wanted America to be a nation of small farmers who actively participated in their democracy. 

Question 56: What are some of the basic beliefs of the Declaration of Independence?
Answer 56: That all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
The Declaration is based on ideas about freedom and individual rights. For Jefferson and the Founding Fathers, people are born with natural rights that no government can take away. Government exists only to protect these rights. Because the people voluntarily give up power to a government, they can take that power back. The British government was not protecting the rights of the colonists, so they took back their power and separated from Great Britain.

Question 72: Name the amendments that guarantee or address voting rights.
Answer 72: The 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th amendments
The 19th Amendment gave women the ability to vote. It was a result of decades of hard work by the women’s rights movement. This was also known as the women’s suffrage movement. The 15th Amendment was written after the Civil War and the end of slavery. It allowed all American men of all races to vote. Some leaders of southern states were upset that the 15th Amendment allowed African-Americans to vote. These leaders designed fees called poll taxes to stop them from voting. The 24th Amendment made it illegal to stop someone from voting because he or she did not pay a poll tax. The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18.

Question 73: In what year was the Constitution written?
Answer 73: The Constitution was written in 1787. [I would guess most Americans would not know this]
Before the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation was the document that established the U.S. system of
government. The Articles were ratified in 1783. By 1786, many American leaders had become unhappy with this document. The national government it set up was simply too weak. In 1787, Congress decided that a convention
would meet in Philadelphia to revise the Articles. At this meeting, the leaders quickly decided to go beyond revising
the Articles. Instead, they wrote a whole new governing document—the Constitution.

Question 76: What is the introduction to the Constitution called?
Answer 76: The Preamble
The preamble says: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure
domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” This means that our government has been set up by the people, so that it can be responsive to them and protect their rights.
All power to govern comes from the people, who are the highest power. This idea is known as popular sovereignty.

 Question 85: What are the two major political parties in the United States today?
Answer 85: The Democratic and Republican parties The Constitution did not establish political parties, and President George Washington specifically warned against them. Still, a split between two political groups, the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists, appeared early in U.S. history. The current Democratic Party was created
from the old Democratic-Republicans by President Andrew Jackson. The Republican Party took over from the Whigs as
a major party in the 1860s. Abraham Lincoln, who was first elected in 1860, was the first Republican President.
Throughout U.S. history, other parties, such as the Know-Nothing, Bull-Moose (also called Progressive), Reform, and
Green Parties, have played various roles in American politics.

Question 89: What kind of government does the United
States have?
Answer 89: A Republic
In a republic, the power that the government exercises comes from the people themselves. Government is therefore
responsible for protecting the rights of all persons
, not just a few special people. The way this happens in the United
States is through a system of representative democracy. The people freely choose who will lead them and represent their
interests. President Abraham Lincoln said our republican government is “of the people, by the people, and for the

Question 91: Name one benefit of being a citizen of the United States.
Answer 91: To obtain Federal government jobs   Shocked [Note: I find it shocking that federal jobs is the FIRST benefit they list], to travel with a U.S. passport, or to petition for close relatives to come to the United States to live Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren once said citizenship is “nothing less than the right to have rights.” Some of the most important of these are the rights to choose your job, speak freely about your beliefs, and  even disagree with government policies. At the same time, citizen responsibilities include obeying the law, voting, and serving on juries. Responsible citizens also take part in their communities. This can mean joining the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of your child’s school, running for a position on the local school board, or volunteering to help at a polling station.