Yesterday, there was a picture gallery of new US Citizens in The Guardian. They had just been sworn in as naturalized citizens and it reminded me of the only Immigration Ceremony that I have seen. It was in November of 2006. Michele and I had gone to see Marianne Nannestad become an United States Citizen. A United States Citizen having all the rights that I was born with and often don’t appreciate.
The Ceremony started out much differently than I expected. It was instructive, informative and legalistic with lots of detailed instruction rather than celebratory; it bordered on being jingoistic.
I have read that an organization is dead when it worries more about keeping people out more than it worries about trying to get more people in. While there are people in our country who feel that way, they are in a – shrinking, I hope – minority.
Towards the ceremony’s climax, the presenter, read a list of countries – in alphabetical order from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe including Great Britain from which there seemed to be a surprising (to me) number of people – that the immigrants were from. As the country was named the immigrants from that country stood and remained standing until the whole class -group? – was standing. Then the soon to be Citizens repeated the Oath of Citizenship that has remained unchanged since George Washington wrote it.
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.
In the end, it was very very moving. I left thrilled that I live in this great country that doesn’t just tolerate immigrants but still wants them.