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     Naturalized citizen:  “One who, being born an alien, has lawfully become a citizen of the United States under the Constitution and laws. He has all the rights of a natural born citizen except that of being eligible as president or vice-president of the United States.” – Law

For Dirk Hagmaier and his wife, Constanze, becoming naturalized American citizens was well worth the wait.

As German immigrants, they started the process almost the day they arrived in the United States as Lutheran pastors.

They had learned of an immigration program to the U.S. and when they applied, so did 1.4 million others. The screening was brutal. Ninety thousand made the first cut, and 40,000 eventually were selected.

For Constanze, becoming a U.S. citizen “was never a question. I always wanted to stay.”
That was 13 years ago when they lived in Mitchell, which is when they shared their story with me. Later, they moved to Madison and have been co-pastors at the Trinity Lutheran Church since 2009.

It’s easy for most of us to take for granted being a citizen in the United States. But what do we really know about our country?

Some weeks ago, Gov. Kristi Noem promised to push legislation requiring all students to take a U.S. citizenship test in order to graduate from high school.  It was only fair, she said, to make certain that high school graduates display a basic knowledge of the nation’s history and its institutions.

As this is written, I haven’t seen the proposal, but it’s hard to argue with the concept. One of the characteristics of a “good citizen” is knowing about your country, how it started, how it evolved, and how it functions today so that the citizen can contribute in a positive way to the process.

The test isn’t that hard, as those who have looked at it can attest. And, only 10 questions from a possible hundred are posed to candidates.

Some examples:

What is the supreme law of the land?  The U.S. Constitution.

The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are those words?  We the people.

Name one of the authors of the Federalist Papers.  Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison.

When was the Declaration of Independence adopted? July 4, 1776.

What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution? The Bill of Rights.

Who is one of your state senators? John Thune, Mike Rounds.

The House of Representatives has how many voting members?  435.

I can’t imagine how it would feel to go through the process and pass the test. But the Hagmaiers certainly can.

“Now it’s our country,” Dirk said when he got the results.

Well stated.

 Jan. 30, 2019