Friday, December 19, 2008

American By Choice

This week I was privileged to be part of a naturalization ceremony for a friend of mine. Several coworkers and I headed to the Convention Center in downtown DC. It was an awesome experience to see so many people gathered together for the sole purpose of becoming citizens of the United States. According to the judge presiding over the ceremony this was the largest naturalization ceremony in DC history with 701 people from 104 countries pledging allegiance to the United States. I was misty eyed through much of the 2+ hour ceremony.

We had a color guard, the national anthem, the reading of each name and country of those becoming naturalized, the oath of allegiance to the United States, the pledge of allegiance to the flag and then a big congratulations with much waving of small American flags. Some of my favorite moments were the cheers that came after the new citizens were told they could receive their passports in as little as three days! Other favorite moments: a stoic couple from Croatia beaming and kissing after they became citizens and some young adult kids cheering for their 60+ year old parents as their names were called.

Overall, it was really exciting to see people become Americans by choice and it was a thrilling memory to have with me as I will be on the frontlines of the visa line helping to start others dreams come to reality in a ceremony like this some day.

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