I first came to visit the U.S. back in 1992. It had been my childhood dream to come here and when the time finally came I was in awe of the beauty and greatness of this free country. I was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1945 and moved to Finland in 1968. The idea of being able to live in America was more than I could ever have imagined.
This dream of mine came true when I was able to move here in 1994. I thought long and hard about becoming a citizen and decided that I would wait until the right time for me to choose between my Swedish citizenship and becoming a United States citizen.
When September 11 happened I saw everything very differently. I finally understood the fierce patriotism of the people I had come to know in this country. I finally felt the pain they were going through when their homeland was attacked. I finally got it.
On March 21, 2002 I became a citizen of the United States of America. They held a ceremony downtown for about 2,000 of us, but I felt like the ceremony was meant just for me. I am proud to be an American and appreciate evrything that means in terms of duty and obligation.
Now I live in Santa Clarita, California. I want to share with you a photograph of our 4th of July parade that was taken on July 4, 1955. The Kiwanis Club had given up organization of the parade in 1938 and the American Legion had it until 1954. In 1955 a group calling itself the "Old West" insisted on holding the parade so that the tradition would not die. This photograph was taken by Richard Trueblood and my information is from the Santa Clarita Historical Society.
God Bless the USA and Happy 4th of July to all of you.