Whether you know him for his epic blockbuster action movies or as the governor of California, there’s no doubt Arnold Schwarzenegger is pretty iconic.
On this exact day 21 years ago, Arnold Schwarzennegger officially became a U.S. citizen in 1983. “The Terminator” actor was born in Thal, Austria on July 30, 1947. His mother was of Czech descent. He moved to the U.S. in October 1968 when he was only 21 and had little experience speaking English.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Becomes U.S. Citizen
At the time, Schwarzenegger was deep in his career as a bodybuilder. He had started lifting weights when he was 15 and would go on to win the Mr. Universe title when he was 20 (he won five times.) He also won the Mr. Olympia contest six times and is considered a massive figure in the bodybuilding world.
When he arrived in the U.S., it was a dream come true for young Arnold. He once said, “As long as I live, I will never forget that day 21 years ago when I raised my hand and took the oath of citizenship. . . I was so proud that I walked around with an American flag around my shoulders all day long.” Schwarzenegger had wanted to move to the U.S. when he was only10 years old.
He posed for an iconic photo when he became a citizen. He’s decked out in all U.S. apparel, including a hat, tank top, and a massive flag in the background.
In an interview with LA Weekly from 2002, Arnold Schwarzenegger recounted his dreams of the Western country that was unobtainable at the time. “I saw the skyscrapers, and the bridges, and the highways, and the cars with the fins sticking out, and all this stuff. Hollywood. I said, ‘What am I doing here on the farm? Oh, God, I‘ve got to move on. How do I move on?'”
Schwarzenegger Talks About U.S. and Immigration
Although his citizenship was a couple of decades ago, Schwarzenegger still expresses extreme fondness for that day and his adopted country.
In an October issue of Men’s Health, he spoke out about the American experience and what he has observed living here for over three decades.
“Well, I see it in the gym. I see guys I meet in the gym that are from Austria. They’re aggressive. They’re from Israel, they’re from France, they’re from Germany, from Russia, from all kinds of different places. And they find their way, because what happens when you’re a foreigner is, you have the work ethic. You know that you have to struggle from the beginning; otherwise, you wouldn’t be leaving your country. If you had this wonderful, rosy atmosphere, you would not want to leave,” Schwarzenegger said.
He has long been an advocate for immigration reform. He once even said, “I don’t blame anybody that tries to come here illegally.” For Schwarzenegger, the U.S. is still that place full of opportunity and wonder that he saw when he was a 10-year-old boy.