September 6, 2012 was my first day as a citizen of the United States of America.
I raised my hand, took the oath of allegiance, and the United States officially became my country that day.
At the naturalization ceremony, I received the following letter from the President of the United States:
Reading that letter was special, and it has remained with me ever since. It was 10 years in the making.
Similar to many other immigrants, my family traveled a relatively long path to citizenship. In 2002, we moved from Lahore, Pakistan to Austin, Texas in order to pursue our American Dream.
Along the way – first as visitors, then as legal permanent residents, and ultimately as citizens – there were celebrations and milestones; events that collectively shaped my story as an American.
As part of Immigrant Heritage Month, I was asked here to reflect on my first day in America. Instead of focusing only on that first day, I ended up looking back at the entire story – opportunities, events, and milestones that built upon that first day when I came to the U.S. in 2002.
Here is a personal collection of some of these days.