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Editorial: Oh say, can you answer?

Being a U.S. citizen comes with privileges and rights. Most of us are citizens through luck of parentage. There’s a tendency for us to take all that the designation entails for granted.

Others in this melting pot, however, earn citizenship. Permanent non-citizen residents — the holders of green cards — who apply for citizenship are required to take and pass a special oral exam along with an interview as part of the naturalization process.

Many of those who successfully completed the process this year will take their oath around or on Independence Day.

Could you earn citizenship?

Quiz your household while enjoying that backyard barbeque this weekend. These basic questions come from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and are among the 100 potential questions a would-be citizen might be asked.  If you want to a few more, visit

1. What is the supreme law of the land? (Clue: See question 2)

2. What does the U.S. Constitution do?

3. What is the Bill of Rights?

4. Name two rights or freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment?

5. What did the Declaration of Independence do?

6. Name one of the three rights stated in the Declaration of Independence? (Clue: Read the “Words to ponder” above.)

7. Why did the colonists fight the British?

8. What is the “rule of law”?

9. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?

10. What does the judicial branch do?

As you consider the answers, remember that our nation’s ultimate strength is rooted in the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the enduring guidance of our living, vital Constitution.

If you know your rights, you may be more likely to fight to protect them. If you know your responsibilities, you may be more likely to live them.

Happy Fourth of July. Happy birthday, United States. We salute our nation in which independence is an everyday experience.


1. The Constitution

2. The Constitution sets up the government, defines the government and protects basic rights of Americans.

3. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution

4. Speech, religion, assembly, press and petition the government

5. It announced that the United States is free from Great Britain.

6. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

7. Because of high taxes (taxation without representation); because the British army stayed in their houses (boarding, quartering); because they didn’t have self-government.

8. Everyone must follow the law — government, leaders, everyone. No one is above the law.

9. Checks and balances; separation of powers

10. The courts review laws, explain laws, resolve disagreements and decides if a law goes against the Constitution.