Happy 235th Birthday to the United States of America!
I recently had the good fortune to observe a naturalization ceremony. My friend Ear33wig finally became an American citizen last week. I sat with his wife of five years, C, and watched as the newly minted citizens marched in with their Certificates of Naturalization, said the Pledge of Allegiance, took the Oath of Citizenship, watched a brief message from President Obama, and sang “The Star Spangled Banner.”
The ceremony was topped off by the playing of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A,” accompanied by a very patriotic video. At first glance it seemed a little bit cheesy, but I suppose that’s because I’m used to being an American. I was reminded of the magnitude of that blessing by the audience members who sang along and waved their flags, more than a few of them with joyous tears streaming down their cheeks. It was beautiful.
At the end of the ceremony, each new citizen was introduced to the audience as, for example, “John Smith from England.” Ear33wig said there were folks from 44 different countries. I said that since they’d taken the oath already, the announcer should have said “from the United States of America” after each name.
On the way out the door, I asked Ear33wig and C about the financial cost of becoming a citizen. I won’t repeat it here, not because of respect for their privacy but because I don’t remember. It was expensive enough that I opined that offering blanket amnesty and citizenship to illegal immigrants would be a slap in the face to those who went through the proper channels. Look at all the trouble Ear33wig went through to become a citizen– paying all that money, filling out all that paperwork, learning to spell “flavor” and “color” correctly, being married to C, talking to all those lawyers. The illegal immigrants should have to go through the same ringer.
P.S. Happy 139th Birthday to Calvin Coolidge!