Friday, June 26, 2009

My Fellow American

It was a big day for JV, who took the Oath of Citizenship this morning. I accompanied him to the Office of Homeland Security in San Jose to provide moral support, take photos, and sate my curiosity.

The crowd was really mixed, comprised of Latin Americans, Europeans, and East and South Asians. Not many Africans. JV remarked that in sharp contrast to all things Green Card- related, the folks you encounter in the citizenship process are generally polite and friendly: surely a special breed of civil servant. That seemed to be the case today.*

The ceremony lasted about thirty minutes, and included, in addition to the Oath, recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance**, a talk about the rights and priveleges of citizenship, a list of famous naturalized citizens, and a short film. The film began with a brief address by President Obama, followed up by a montage of sweeping landscapes and arial shots of Navy sailors on deck, to the dreaded Country song that goes, "I'm Proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free..." At the end, staff members passed out the Certificates of Naturalization, patiently pausing from time to time to pose for photos with their new countrymen. Tears were shed.***

*Of the two government employees who addressed the crowd, one repeatedly referred to the US as "One of the great countries of the world," while the other did not mince words, declaring this "the greatest country in the world." Both were obviously naturalized themselves.
**The woman who administered the Oath asked for a volunteer to lead us in the Pledge. When the volunteer, a middle-aged woman of European descent, got to the last line, "With liberty and justice for all," her voice cracked with emotion.
***Not by JV, of course!


Post a Comment

<< Home