My birthday is not only the anniversary of my birth, it is also the anniversary of my first day of school in the United States. My mother brought my sisters and me to this country 34 years ago. Our journey here was not a physically difficult one. We did not cross shark-infested waters in a rickety boat. We did not climb a fence and wade through a murky river. We did not cross an ocean in a ship. We did not come by plane. Instead, we drove across a border we had crossed hundreds of times before as visitors.
We came as immigrants from the beautiful country to the north. We came because my father died and my mother married a new man, an American. I came because I was a child and my mother chose to bring me here.
I stayed because I love it here. I stayed because this is my home and the people I love are here.
Still, I lived for many years as a resident alien, paying taxes, paying social security, but having no right to vote. I ached to vote and yet was scared to make the decision to go through the process of naturalization. As with so many other things, fear and what ifs kept me from making one of the most important decisions of my life.
My impetus for change was born five years ago. When my son was born, I filed the paperwork and started on my path to naturalization.
Unfortunately, I missed the last presidential election by a few months. I became a citizen in early 2009 on the coldest day of the year. What I recall was the glorious feeling of belonging as soon as I pledged my allegiance.
Since that day I have voted in elections, but this will be my first presidential election. I cannot fully express with how much joy I approach my opportunity to vote in this election. It is something I have wanted to do, dreamed of even, for a very long time. Those of you who were born with this right might take it for granted, but I sincerely hope you do not. I hope you are informed and I hope you are as excited as I am to vote for your candidates and causes. Most importantly, I hope you will vote.