Monday, December 10, 2018

Becoming an American

If I had a Bucket List, attending a Naturalization Ceremony would be on it.  On Friday, I got my wish. 
Lady Jane and I sat on a bench right in front, escorted there by a lovely court officer whose chief objective seemed to be making sure that everyone was comfortable.  She took that responsibility very seriously.  There was no fussing, except for a few little ones making their presence known.  There was only excitement and smiles and lots of love from the changing faces of America.

They came from Congo, Bhutan, Nigeria, Denmark, Rwanda, China, South Korea, Mexico, Iraq, Burundi, Columbia, Germany, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Togo, and Vietnam.  52 applicants who met the requirements of  good moral character, residency, and attachment to the Constitution of the United States, who passed background checks and a written test, who studied and waited and finally found themselves in the Federal Courthouse, surrounded by friends and family and Federal Marshals, ready to stand, representing your country for the last time,.   

The judge asked them to raise your right hand, and bid their country of origin good bye. 

I declare on oath, that I absolutely and entirely give up and renounce all allegiance .....that's a statement right there.  They are no longer German or Nigerian or Vietnamese.  They are all Americans. 

It was a moment, denizens.  A hopeful, pregnant pause before they began their new lives.  It was an honor to share it.

They ran a video of iconic American images, to help us get back to business.  We stood again and sang the Star Spangled Banner, recited the Pledge of Allegiance (led by a new citizen), and heard a speech from a Daughter of the American Revolution.  She applauded the newbies for having studied hard and sacrificed.  She offered congratulations and recognized  your accomplishment and ended with  President Kennedy's Ask not admonition. Then, she said what was in all our hearts: We welcome you, and are proud to have you.

It was quintessentially American , and it only got better.  There were speeches.  The judge encouraged everyone to come up - new citizens as well as the family and friends who were crowding the benches.  He wanted to hear the stories: Come on; you're all invited to come up and speak. And please, take pictures.  You'll want to remember this day!

And so they did:
I wouldn't be where I am today if not for......
Thank you, my family, for encouraging me and pushing me to complete this.
I thank her mom and dad for raising a wonderful woman, my wife.
She started the application before she got sick and now her husband stands alone.
I'll speak in my language so my Dad can understand.
Just wanted to say, Mom, welcome to America!
Met him at the airport, we've been through ups and downs, had fun at the grocery store, and here he is, the most stylish man in the room.
Thank you, America, for how accepting and how loving you are.
Good bless America and God bless you all!

As if that weren't enough, the judge went on:  No other country does this. Thank you for selecting America. We as Americans thank you for choosing us. Thank you all for coming to America. Thank you for making this flag your own. I am truly honored and humbled. You have demonstrated that we are a country of immigrants, collected from many backgrounds, to become one America. Hold onto your beliefs and traditions.  You have opportunity and responsibilities. Two are the most important.  You have the right to vote. Register and vote. It's your voice.  And serve on a jury. Meaningfully participate in the system, because the system needs you.

He told  me, when I took this picture later on, that this is his favorite day of the year. 
It was warm and inclusive and wonderful.

There was a short video wherein President Trump proved he could read a short paragraph.  He ad-libbed Very very special, but otherwise was non-offensive.  Quickly, we went on.  To the accompaniment of Lee Greenwood's Proud to be an American, there were more faces and photos of America on the video screen.  

The certificates were handed out, by an official who did not mangle a single name, and whose colleague managed to shake hands and smile and pose for photos with every new citizen.
Lady Jane and I hugged our newest citizen through tears of joy and wonder.   
52 people turned their backs on their homelands and adopted our country as their own on Friday. Goodbye, Rwanda!  Hello, America!!  

It was very special.


  1. I was able to be at the ceremony when my soon to be daughter-in-law became a citizen. She was born in Germany to a GI and his lovely German wife and came home to the USA as a baby. Her mother became a citizen before the daughter. It was lovely!

    1. What a beautiful story. For all its faults, the USA is still pretty special, and it shows its best in places like this.

  2. Ah, if only we could force Rep. Stringer to attend one of those beautiful ceremonies! Maybe he'd change his attitudes. How nice that you were there to tell us about it!

  3. So beautiful even if I wasn't there. THIS is what America is about; not keeping people out. Welcoming and loving.

    Thank you for sharing your day with us.

    Stacy xxx

  4. Thank you for sharing this. It leaves me with a wonderful, warm feeling. We need those experiences.


Talk back to me! Word Verification is gone!