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Thursday, December 22, 2011

AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP OATH

If you have been following my columns, you know I consider citizenship to be an important responsibility which shouldn't be taken for granted. I make an effort to stay abreast of current events and what is going on in our government. I have voted in every national election since I was eligible to do so in 1972. This is why I become rather disturbed when people do not vote, nor care about what is going on in their country, particularly young people who I consider a generation of naive sheep in the offing. It's a sad state of affairs when immigrants know more about what is going on in this country than native born citizens.

In the 2008 presidential elections, only 56.8% of the American populace voted, which is a pitiful figure when you compare it to other democracies like Australia, India, and the Scandinavian countries. Surprisingly, this was the highest voting percentage in the United States since 1968 (60.8%). The highest in recent history was in 1960 (63.1%) for the Kennedy/Nixon election.

Since 1778, immigrants coming to this country have had to pass a test and take an oath swearing their allegiance to the United States. The current oath is as follows:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

Not surprisingly, immigrants coming through this program tend to appreciate this country and are more loyal than native born Americans. Another cause for this could be because there is less emphasis on teaching American government and history in the schools than in years past. In other words, the importance of being a citizen has not been impressed upon them.

So, as a proposal, how about administering a modified version of the immigration oath to all native born Americans on January 1st? Parents could give it to their children, thereby turning it into a family tradition; civic organizations and local governments could administer it in public group settings, or perhaps some other venue. Maybe even the media could get involved and administer it over the airwaves or Internet. It should be administered in some solemn way with a right hand raised and the left hand placed on either a copy of the U.S. Constitution or perhaps a holy book such as a Bible, Torah, or Koran.

All that is necessary is to simply modify the first sentence of the Immigration Oath; to wit:

AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP OATH

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

Ideally, this should be followed by voter registration for those who haven't done so.

This oath is certainly not the same as the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, this is instead a reaffirmation of our commitment to our country and would help promote citizenship and voting. Maybe this is something that should be given routinely as opposed to just one time; to remind people of their allegiance to this country. I cannot help but believe this simple gesture would have nothing but beneficial effects.

I can dream can't I?

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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