Skip to comments.Chattanooga: Foreign-born service about more than citizenship
Posted on 11/11/2008 6:35:44 PM PST by Tennessee Nana
When Herta Lemons participates in the Veterans Day ceremony at the Chattanooga National Cemetery today, shell blend right in with the other Gold Star Mothers who have lost children in combat.
And thats quite all right with her.
The German-born East Lake resident lost a son to war before he was even a citizen of the United States, and she doesnt want that sacrifice viewed as any less patriotic than those of his native-born brethren.
Lance Cpl. Karl Ludwig Thompson didnt join the service for benefits or for citizenship, Mrs. Lemons says. In fact, he did not become an American citizen until his mother received a certificate on his behalf in 2004, 38 years after his death in Vietnam.
He wanted to be an American, and God knows he is, she said, then quickly correcting herself: He was.
Bill Lemons, Mrs. Lemons husband, agrees wholeheartedly. As an American-born Army veteran himself, he said he knows how honorable Lance Cpl. Thompsons sacrifice was. But he also wonders if post-9/11 legislation making it easier for military personnel to become naturalized citizens has corrupted that honor.
People take America for granted, he said, suggesting that military service could serve as an easy way for foreign-born service members to get U.S. benefits.
Jeanne Batalova, a demographer for the Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, says many Americans may have that view because very few people are educated about foreign-born military service, which historically has been rare.
Of the veterans honored for their service during todays national holiday, she said, about 645,000 less than 3 percent are immigrants.
We all hear about the children of immigrants and the immigrant workers from the point of view of who is contributing today to American society, Ms. Batalova said. But the population of immigrant veterans hasnt really been on the radar.
Their plight often is much more complicated than a hunt for citizenship during service or for benefits afterward, she said.
I think its really a combination of factors, she said. Its the allegiance to a new home country and an approach to become a citizen quicker.
But those who receive citizenship through the military must be legal residents who could obtain citizenship through ordinary means anyway, Ms. Batalova said. Military contracts simply speed up the process and eliminate fees, she said.
Staff Sgt. Alain Espinosa, commander of the Marine recruiting station in Dalton, Ga., said citizenship is rarely, if ever, a consideration for new recruits and he would know as a Cuban-born enlistee who completed the military naturalization process himself.
I didnt join for all those reasons people talk about, like the poor immigrant who needs money to go to college, Staff Sgt. Espinosa said. I just wanted to do something different than the average person.
He said hes not the only one with this mindset. Of more than 400 people his office has encountered so far this year, Staff Sgt. Espinosa can recall only one who asked a question related to citizenship. Theres something to be said for that in Dalton, he said, where close to half of the population is Hispanic.
Noberto Garcia of Sevierville, Tenn., did not have to join the military to obtain his citizenship at U.S. District Court in Chattanooga last month, according to his wife, Rebecca Garcia. But he insisted on joining the Army National Guard after filing his papers because he felt the need to give back, she said.
Mr. Garcia works full-time as an electrician and is studying to become an electrical engineer, Mrs. Garcia said. Having those opportunities made my husband love this country so much that he is willing to put his life on the line to protect our freedom, she said. He felt in his heart that he owed his adopted country for all the opportunities he has found.
Its that kind of patriotism and pride that Lance Cpl. Thompson felt serving so many years ago, according to Mrs. Lemons.
He was proud to wear that uniform, the lance corporals mother said, and he stood up for what he believed.
And Nana is one of these 645,000...
I wore my uniform the day I became an American citizen in 1975...
And bawled and squalled with pride and excitement..
Happy Veterans Day PING
But those who receive citizenship through the military must be legal residents who could obtain citizenship through ordinary means anyway
Illegal aliens CANNOT join the US military...
They are ineligible...
Dont even try to get me started on that one...
Thanks Nana. For all of us, thanks.
right before my BCT’s deployment, 7 of our soldiers took the oath of citizenship. It is a source of immense pride to look into the eyes of those kids and see their desire to make America their and to make themselves a part of America. Today, on my way to give a Veterans Day speech for a nearby township, I saw a large group of young men sitting on a street corner, engaging in what appeared to be a drug deal. Citizens by birth and they demand entitlements compared to my soldiers who are citizens by desire I know who I think are true Americans.
Yes. Often I think that armed service ought to be the only path to the vote, not birth.
The American GI from Berlin
by Ullrich Fichtner
Berlin-born Jeffrey Jamaleldine wanted to do something about terrorism in the world and so he joined the US Army to fight in Iraq. Now he's back in Bavaria, his face nearly destroyed by a bullet -- but he's still convinced that it is his calling to fight for peace.
Long before Jeffrey Jamaleldine was hit in the face by a bullet during a nighttime ambush just outside the central Iraqi city of Ramadi, he was just another German kid, roaming through West Berlin and dreaming of becoming a professional soccer player.
Right the first time Mom, he is an American.
No wait, I'm armed.
You were just saluted with a WW-II vintage M1 Carbine, manufactured by Inland (a division of General Motors) and rebuilt to Korean War standard. I confess I had to go get it out of the case and closet. But sometimes it is by my side as a I FReep. Other times it's my 1911. More so when I lived in San Antonio, rather than now where I'm surrounded by elements of two divisions of the US Army. (although one is currently deployed.)
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