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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oath Ceremony

Kyle is out of town, Milo is not feeling very well (I gave him some medication at 5:30am), Harper has to go to school on time and I have an appointment for the Oath Ceremony at 7:30am downtown I cannot miss... Fortunately, a fairy and her husband came to my rescue and I could leave the house at 6:30 and go to the Oath Ceremony.

I arrive at 7:00, the line is already wrapped around the corner of the building on C street. I would like a coffee! I start waiting. The line grows really fast behind me. As the time goes by, I see people coming and looking in disbelief at the stretched - longer and longer - line: - Oh, no! - Oh, my god -Oh my gosh - I cannot believe it... and other things I do not understand because they are said in foreign languages... People came with family members, kids. It seems I am the only one by myself! At 7:30 the line starts slowly moving, in 15 minutes we get into the building.

Before to enter the room, applicants are separated from the accompanying people who have now to go upstairs and stay there for the whole time remaining. We arrive in a very large room. There, we get in lines and we have to show our N-445 form and our permanent resident card. There are several lines. Some are faster than others. I am a little bit nervous, I went through so many lines during the immigration process that I cannot help thinking it cannot be simple. But it is, the officer takes the form, verify in a list that I am there, takes my resident card, throw it in a cardboard box at his feet, and handle me a leaflet "We, the People", a "message from the President of the United States, a small American flag and a piece of paper with an assigned number to come back later to pick up my certificate of citizenship. Mine is #5.

We have to fill the seats starting with the front rows, the empty seats will soon be all taken.
Now the waiting game starts. We have to wait until everybody gets through the lines to have their N-445 verified. I takes forever - almost two hours. I do not have a book or anything to read! Everybody is very calm.

Finally, by 9:30 the room is filled.

We have some demonstration of folkloric dances by a group of dancers from the international Cottages in Balboa Park. Because today there is a large group of Filipino people, we get some Filipino dances, including the "Coconut Harvest", which is, I have to say, rather silly. We also have some Peruvian dance performed by a young couple and a contemporary Indian dance, performed by a very young girl.

At almost 10:30, the judge enters the room and talks. She says there are 864 people from 81 different countries today who become American Citizens. It is very moving when she says thelist of the countries.
People from each country raise. Countries include Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Jordan, Pakistan, India, China, Syria... There are only 3 French people. When the judge says: "Mexico" 3 quarters of the people raise and scream with joy!

it is the time for the Oath of Allegiance. The right hand on the heart, we all repeat after the judge:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

Then we get some more speakers and some more folkloric dances. It is the end of the ceremony and it is time to go and get our certificate of Naturalization. We get in lines again but it only get a few minutes. "Verify the information on the certificate, tell us if there is a mistake. Sign the certificate at home if you want, but sign the same way you signed your photo which is on the document".

I ask someone who just got hers to take a picture of me inside this room where I will certainly never come back to. It is 11:15 and I am officially an American citizen.

Right outside there is 2 booths to register as a voter. Here's McCain's booth....

And here's Obama's! - No comment!
I am on the list now, I feel like a citizen and it is a great feeling!

Tonight I got a bottle of French Champagne and a collage by Joey Burns from our dear French-American friends (we will drink the Champagne together when Kyle will be back!)!
J'aime bien comment ca commence cette citoyennete Americaine!


Anonymous said...



I would like to get a story from me

Ricardo said...

michele...this was very moving..congratulations and thank you for posting this story. Ricardo