It was an unforgettable, celebratory moment that gave me goosebumps.
It was a moment that reminded me that the American Dream that I strongly believe in is alive and well.
On Aug. 9, I had the opportunity to join the entire Mnsor family at the federal courthouse in Hartford for their United States Citizenship Oath Ceremony.
Let me tell you about the Mnsor family.
Their home and factory in Syria were bombed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They were targeted for religious purposes. For over five years, they lived in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. They came to the United States thanks to the help and support of good people in our state: Mentors such as Vida and Joel Peskay of Easton and William and Kristin Jennings of Fairfield. The Mnsor’s resettled in Fairfield, and they have been working tirelessly in multiple jobs to become economically independent and have since been blessed with beautiful grandchildren.
Witnessing the Mnsor family’s joy-filled naturalization ceremony reminded me of why my parents risked everything to pursue The American Dream: As teens, they escaped communist China to Taiwan and lived under government controlled martial law restricting their freedom and rights. They took the uncertain risk to immigrate to America, they did it for their children and their grandchildren. Their sacrifice paved the way for us. For that, our family and future generations will be eternally grateful.
And that gratitude was on display in the federal courthouse in Hartford. Sincere, genuine gratitude.
After they raised their right hands and took the oath and became American citizens, the first thing I asked the Mnsor family was this question:
“What are you most excited to do?”
They answered me without hesitation.
“We want to vote!”
That enthusiastic response should make everyone who is reading this smile. This is a family that has endured and suffered so much. They spent years living in a nightmare. Yet they persevered. They made it to what they believe to be the greatest country in the world thanks to kind, caring, compassionate Connecticut sponsors.
And they want to vote. To participate. To contribute. To speak out, work hard, give back, and improve our communities. The Mnsor’s now have that voice, and what a powerful thing that is.
We enjoy tremendous rights and privileges in this country. The Mnsor family’s story is a teachable moment for anyone who takes our freedoms and liberties for granted. Yes, the United States of America is far from perfect, but we are a nation of immigrants who strive and dream to build a better life, and we should never forget that is our greatest strength as a country.
United we stand. And I was proud to stand with the Mnsor family on Aug. 9 on one of the happiest days of their lives.
Tony Hwang represents the 28th Senate District, representing Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport. On the web: SenatorHwang.com.