Many of you aren’t aware that I was born in England and immigrated to North America at a young age. As a youngster I was not a citizen of the United States, but I always felt like an “American.” Once I reached legal age it was very important to me to take the steps to become a citizen and in the years since so have my mother, father and brother. To our family, becoming Americans wasn’t a birthright, but rather a choice and a true honor.
I love this country on so many levels, but perhaps my greatest love is the general kindness and open arms it shows to so many. The United States has afforded the opportunity for our family to accomplish things that frankly were unattainable without the move to the “land of opportunity.” I want to publicly thank both my father and mother (Graham and Ortrud Richardson) for having the vision and courage to take the risk of leaving their families to make a better life for my brother and me. Without that difficult decision, life would have been very different for my family.
Becoming a citizen of another country is a personal and sometimes difficult choice. Just last week, my dear friend and Avalanche great, Milan Hejduk took the same path and became a U.S. citizen himself. After a decorated 14 year NHL career, Milan and Zlata made the decision to spend the rest of their lives in Colorado. With that came the decision to become Americans.
On Saturday, April 2nd, Hedgie and his boys Marek and David joined my daughter Alexi and me at a Colorado Rapids game. As we settled in the seats and enjoyed the pregame, I said to Milan, “Hey, this is the first time you’re going to hear the National Anthem as an American citizen, that’s pretty cool”. Taking it all in, Milan just nodded back as he processed that milestone. I was standing right next to my friend once the anthem started. As the young lady singing the anthem did a wonderful rendition, I took a peek and I think I saw a tear or two welling up in the eyes of #23. I smiled to myself and knew exactly how he felt.