Celebrating Being an American Citizen

July 4, 2006 -- Posted at 3:46 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- On our nation's birthday, we display our red white and blue proudly, sing the national anthem, and declare our patriotism.  But some of the proudest Americans aren't originally from this country.

Mette McKinney was born in Copenhagen, Denmark.  She and her family lived all over Europe while she was growing up.  18 years ago McKinney moved to the United States.

"It took but just a few months, but I decided regardless of what ever happened, this would be the place where I would stay," said McKinney.

McKinney lives in Jonesboro with her 13-year-old son Shane.  She moved to the United States with her former husband.

"People that come over here and experience the American way of living... I can't see how you cannot favor that," said McKinney.

Three years ago McKinney received her American citizenship.  She had been granted permanent residency here, but no matter how difficult, becoming a citizen was very important to her.

"I had to take an oral test, a written test, and an interview.  Then I had to go to Little Rock and appear to receive my citizenship.  That is a day I will never forget," said McKinney.

As American Citizens, we have many rights and privileges.  One of those privileges is the right to vote, McKinney says the first time she was able to vote, she felt something like she had never felt before.

"Last election I actually got to vote for the first time in my life.  It was an 'I'm home' sensation," said McKinney.

Now, she says the 4th of July has a special meaning for her.

"I get to celebrate it in the open that I'm an American citizen.  When they play the national anthem, it just does something to me," said McKinney.

Something that many of us take for granted.

"It doesn't matter where you come from, who you are, what color you are, or what you believe in... you are a part of this country," said McKinney.