Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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WWII vet finally a U.S. citizen

by Candice Miller on March 1, 2011

By Chad Selweski, Journal Register Newspapers
Len arrived from Poland at age 7
At a joyful, tearful ceremony in Chesterfield Township, a decorated World War II veteran finally received his citizenship papers 82 years after arriving in the United States from Poland.
John Len was presented with his Certificate of Naturalization by the Citizenship and Immigration Services and a resolution of “Special Congressional Recognition” presented by the office of U.S. Rep. Candice Miller.
“He’s always considered himself a citizen of the United States, but there was nothing to prove it legally. …Here he was, a decorated war veteran who had done nothing but good things all his life who couldn’t get his legal citizenship papers,” said his daughter, Fran March of Clinton Township.
Len was born in Brzozow, Poland, and came to America at age 7 with his parents, who were U.S. citizens. He eventually served in the U.S. Army, facing combat in the Rhineland, central Europe, and Africa and received two Bronze Stars.
Many years later, while vacationing in Florida, he realized that he couldn’t obtain a passport to travel to the Bahamas because he had no proof of legal U.S. residency — no records of his initial immigration to America, no alien registration number. He also had no birth certificate because it was destroyed when the German Army destroyed the town of Brozozow.
Fearing deportation, Len spent decades avoiding the issue and setting aside any attempt to tell his story to the authorities.
But in 2009, after his daughter took him to Washington for an emotional visit to the World War II Memorial, she contacted Miller’s congressional office and staffer Barb Bulic gradually unearthed enough archived material to prove that Len qualified for citizenship.
Because of Len’s age — he will be 89 in April — and health circumstances, the naturalization ceremony was held at his residence, the Prestige Commons nursing home, on Friday. Patriotic songs were played and sung to add to the moment. Len will also be presented with an American flag after it is ceremonially flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor for one day.
“May dad has always considered himself a U.S. citizen, but now has the documentation to prove it, which has brought closure to one face of his life in his twilight years, along with much happiness,” March said. “At the ceremony, there weren’t many dry eyes, including my dad’s.”

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