On Thursday last week, I had the privilege of finally becoming a U.S. Citizen. It felt great! After a journey of more than 22 years, I’m proud to call myself not only a naturalized resident of this wonderful nation but, foremost, an American!
The path to this accomplishment has not always been easy. I can tell you that with absolute conviction! There were times that I wanted to throw in the terrible towel, although the expression “terrible” had a completely different connotation for me than its Pittsburgh sibling!
After all the Prospecting Visas – HB1s, HB2s, E2s, I-765, EAD, I-485, EAs, RFEs, NOIDs, more RFEs, the fees, the interviews, and finally my Green Card (Permanent Residency), it felt like the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), had squashed me with a steam roller!
Still, I persevered and I’m glad I did. It was worth every penny and every drop of the anxious perspiration that dripped from my forehead each time an envelope from the DHS showed up in my mailbox. Although I love the country of my birth, the U.S. gave me an opportunity that I could never have achieved if I’d stayed on the old continent.
Then there are the friendships I have built up over the years. People always have welcomed me and my family from day one. Never have I felt left out or shunted down to a second level, and the friendships that were generated over the years are solid. I love ‘em all!
So, when I stood there during the oath ceremony and heard the words “Congratulations, you are now an American,” I must say that I let out a small gasp for air and wept an invisible tear! To have the sword of Damocles removed from over my head, to have that 700-pound gorilla climb off my back, made life feel pretty good at that particular moment!
And I have a lot to thank Squadron for. The company has been very instrumental in my case. If it weren’t for their sponsorship, helping to legalize my path to glory, I would not be here today. I would have found myself seasick on some old rusty banana boat lumbering back to Belgium 10 years ago!
So, thank you, Squadron, for “aiding and abetting” me in making my longtime dream come true!
Also, let’s not forget my lovely and patient wife Jill, who has diligently stood beside me with a bucket of ice water just in case some other setback should send me reeling to the floor. Gotta love her!
And to all my friends who believed in me, helped me, and supported me in my quest. I thank you all!
Last but not least I want to pay homage to the most exciting, grand, wonderful, beautiful, and inspiring Nation in the world,
God bless the United States of America!