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Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Australia Day 2006

Today is Australia Day – a day of national celebration in my birth land. It’s been 218 years since the arrival of the first colonists.

I take pride in having been born Australian – everyone should feel proud of their birthplace – but as an immigrant and naturalized citizen of the United States of America, and particularly as one who served in the armed forces of his new home, there is, of course, some internal conflict. Australia no longer recognizes me as a citizen, and my oath upon becoming American obligated me to renounce any “allegiance and fidelity” to Australia. Here’s the full text:

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 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. In acknowledgment whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature.

I think it’s an unfortunate circumstance that you can only belong to one country. On a practical and legal basis, as long as the idea of “nations” exists, it is absolutely necessary. I also don’t understand how you can hold dual citizenship when you have given an oath such as this – apparently, some countries are willing to disregard these words, and will still recognize you as their citizen. Fortunately for me, the odds of me ever being placed in a situation where I had to choose between doing what is right for the USA and what is right for Australia is very remote; because I gave my oath and I mean it. I have been asked to risk my life in the service of the Constitution and have done so willingly and obediently, and I would do so again whenever asked. If I were ever placed in a situation where I was asked to betray the United States on behalf of Australia, I would have to report myself to the proper authorities as a potential risk, even if I refused to cooperate. I love America.

And of course, one of the things I love about America is that you can feel proud of your heritage. It’s ok to call yourself an Australian-American, and to show your pride in your country of origin. My family has roots in Australia that are very deep for an Anglo. My ancestors have been there for so long that there’s statistically little doubt as to how they got there in the first place – most likely as British convicts. But that’s ok, hell, it’s even chic nowadays, but I remember a time when the idea would have been unmentionable.

Australia professes many admirable national principles – foremost is the idea of “a fair go for all.” As a nation and a people there have been many failures to live up to those principles, especially in the treatment of the indigenous Australian aboriginals. But what righteous person doesn’t want to confront and deal with their failures when they become aware of them? Even on Australia Day, there is a strong recognition of the past abuses dealt out, and a call to recognize and respect the feelings of those who were done wrong. I think an example has been set for many others, and I am still proud of my roots, and of the vast majority of Australians who continue to sympathize and support efforts at reconciliation, and how all of them debate with respect how best to address these issues.

Australia has a culture in continuous transition – I feel way behind the times in many ways. I don’t know what the current popular opinion is in many current issues, or even what constitutes the current issues, but everything I hear leads me to believe that the principle behind the positions is still the same – “a fair go for all.” I hereby honor Australia, my birth land, a place and a people that have left an indelible mark on who I am and who I ever will be, and I join you in celebrating your national day.

Without violating my oath, I can still say that

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

-Dorothea MacKeller, from “My Country“.

Posted by Greg in Posts About Me, Society

4 Comments »

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4 Responses to “Australia Day 2006”

  1. Web says:

    The US changed its rules about dual citizenship about 10 years ago. You can now get US citizenship without having to renounce your prior citizenship, and you can take citizenship in another country without renouncing your US citizenship. So my wife is a citizen of Ireland and the UK by birth and a naturalized citizen of the US (as of about 3 years ago) and I am a citizen of the US by birth and a naturalized citizen of Ireland.

  2. Web says:

    I forgot to add — so maybe you could get your Australian citizenship ‘back’ if you wanted to.

  3. Greg says:

    The US position doesn’t matter to Australia. I lost my Australian citizenship when I became an American.

    However, you are correct. Australia changed its policies several years ago and I can get Australian citizenship back. I just have to promise to move back to Australia within three years. It’s interesting that I might be able to do so without losing US status.

    Had I have known this on November 3, 2004, I might have left. I was pretty upset and frustrated that day. Now that the fear I had then is coming to pass – Alito is looking unstoppable. A strong right-leaning Supreme Court would not intrepret the Constitution the same way I do. Of course, I could say the same thing about a strong left-leaning court. What the hell is wrong with moderation?

  4. Choco says:

    Seen couple Australians turn American, immigrants and dutch turn Australian, almost became Australian myself…. Internal conflict? My english is australian, not European, every word has 2 associations, its not European. We renounced the EU constitution just recently, but barely know our own. Conflict yet? No, not a single bit. Make sense? My heart, skip the words, you never needed more, did you really?