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Letters: U.S. must continue sharing one language

When I put out the American flag in the morning, I occasionally think of the journey taken by all four of my grandparents from Sweden years ago. Even as they were going through a powerful emotional transition at a young age, they were anxious to become Americans.

That great day came when they recited an oath of allegiance to be loyal to their new country. They pledged to renounce all political ties to the old country and to adopt English as their new language. Implicit in the ceremony was that as new citizens they would assimilate themselves to the culture of their adopted country. By doing so they knew they would become real Americans.

President George Washington strongly supported Americanization of immigrants. He said, "They (immigrants) should be assimilated to our customs, measures and laws. By doing this, native-born citizens and immigrants would soon become one people."

Theodore Roosevelt held the same view but with one stipulation, "But this is predicated upon a man's becoming an American and nothing but an American. We have room for but one loyalty and that is to the American people."

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis urged that the immigrant "adopts the clothes, the manners and the costumes generally prevailing here ... substitutes for his mother's tongue the English language and becomes deeply rooted here and comes into complete harmony with our ideals and aspirations."

Today's immigrants must meet similar standards. We must insist they embrace the same ideals entrusted to us, namely that we remain one country, of many cultures, a melting pot but with all of us sharing a common language. We must resist any movement to make America bilingual.

Ray Pearson, Park Rapids Class of 1944