I became an American citizen today, just ten days short of nineteen years after moving here and about a year since applying. There were 98 other people from 30-something countries being naturalized as well. First we all stood in line to check in and give up our green cards (which went into an official looking Target bag), Then we waited more after being seated, during which we were told some rather hokey stories by a manager in the Immigration Services office and read and re-read our letters from the president (Dear fellow American…)
Once the judge arrived, things moved quickly- first we all said the oath together, then the judge made a nice speech. Due to the hokey stories and the fact that I wasn’t running away from religous persecution or civil strife, I expected to view things through my usual detached, ironic perspective, but once things got going, I found it quite moving.
After the judge was done speaking, a grade school daughter of one of the fresh citizens led us in the pledge of allegiance and that was it. We filed out a row at a time to collect our certificates of naturalization and that was that.
Here’s me before the ceremony, permanent resident card in hand:
And afterwards, government-issue mini flag in hand:
Big difference eh?