EDITORIAL: Ilya Deserves Better
Ilya Starodubsky, 92, doesn't ask much. He just wants to die an American citizen.
This courtly old Russian gentleman, whose name means "old oak," has weathered more hardship than most of us who do enjoy American citizenship can imagine. He won a passel of medals for heroism in helping his Soviet homeland defeat the Nazis -- and some American medals too.
He has lived in the United States since 1990 and in Pinehurst since 1997. Yet when it comes to achieving his last wish, as Pilot Writer-in-Residence Jim Dodson reported in a compelling Sunday column, this brave old soldier may well suffer defeat at the hands of federal bureaucratic delays.
Ilya's wife, Manya, has already been granted citizenship. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has assured Ilya that he is eligible as well. But somebody in the bowels of the agency apparently lost his papers, and the process had to start all over again. The most recent word is that it may take another two years.
Ilya may not have two more years. Is this the best that the land of the free and the home of the brave can do?
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