Sze Ming Ho was only 14 years old when he ran away from his home near Shanghai, China. It was the beginning of Chairman Mao’s disastrous “Great Leap Forward” which would condemn millions to death by starvation, including the boy’s own grandfather.
Sze Ming headed to British-held Hong Kong, where he got a job as a merchant mariner for a Danish shipping line. He first came to America as a crew member in 1966 and jumped ship. He was caught and deported. He tried again some years later, and this time he was able to stay in the United States..
He married, had children, and made sure they had the university education denied him. He worked as a cook for 50 years and he paid taxes. He received his green card in 1981.
He learned English by reading American newspapers, and he engages in lively discussions on a variety of issues facing the nation and the world.
He is proud to have achieved his goals in this “melting country,” he says, and has never wanted to return to China.
“I am very loyal to this country,” he says. “I love this free country.”
On March 25 in the City of New York, Mr. Sze Ming Ho, 73 years of age, raised his right hand and took the oath of U.S. citizenship.
Why now? Why after all these years did he decide to finally become a citizen?
“I want to vote,” he answers decisively, “to help the country get well again. That is the reason.”
Site attorney TJ Mills of the New York Justice for Our Neighbors’ Chinatown clinic helped Mr. Ho with the citizenship process.
“He is a wonderful lawyer,” says Mr. Ho. “They are all very good Christians.”
Now a registered voter, Sze Ming Ho also hopes to serve on a jury one day.