Allan Armitage Describes His Path to Citizenship
I recently talked with one of my former students, Mike Plattner, another successful story of a young person who has done well in this horticulture game. His comment to me was essentially, “Well, I wasn’t sure I loved [horticulture] yesterday, but I sure do today. I am so happy that this is my profession.”
Isn’t that like all of us? Some days are a little worse than others, but is there anywhere else we would rather be?
Speaking of anywhere else, is there any other country you would rather be doing this in? Sure, we salivate when we walk through some of those European greenhouses. We surely know that every English horticulturist knows more than we do, simply because of his or her accent. And yes, other countries may have better wineries or prettier cafes in their garden centers, but we live in the grand U.S. of A. While we can no longer discuss politics or religion or a few other things, when all is said and done, is there anywhere else you would rather call home?
The reason I am wearing red, white, and blue today is to share with you my news. As some of you know, my wife and I are Canadians — dyed in the wool, maple-leaf Canucks. We moved to Georgia in 1980 for a two-year foreign assignment, never expecting to stay, and we are still here. We had a number of offers to go elsewhere, but we’ve always been comfortable here, so we stayed. We have been legal aliens since then. Our green card status gave us all the rights and responsibilities that all Americans enjoy, except the ability to vote.
My Path to Citizenship
All has changed. In the last eight months, we filled in the paperwork, were fingerprinted and photographed, and took our civic exams. On May 25, 2017, we joined others to swear allegiance, repeat the oath, and receive our Naturalization Certificates.
Some of you reading this may have done the same. It was amazing! There were 53 countries represented. There were tears of joy, photos everywhere, and sheer joy that a country would allow people to stay, work, raise a family, and be productive members of the community. One fellow from Trinidad/Tobago, when asked why he eventually became a citizen, simply said, “I can’t complain if I can’t vote.”
You can work in many countries but never be granted citizenship, even in several European countries. In the U.S., there is a straightforward path. It is not easy, and there is a myriad of conditions, but anyone here legally will be welcomed by this country.
I’m proud to be a citizen of this country, but that’s enough for now. there are plants to grow, garden centers to see, and genetically engineered petunias to investigate. But next time you see me, let’s share a piece of apple pie.