A few days ago I attended the swearing-in ceremony to become a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. I hadn't anticipated being moved by it. Maybe I envisioned something far less personal, but the messages of several of the speakers touched me deeply.
One lawyer's text surrounded issues of the rule of law. As a Canadian citizen, the rule of law was something I took for granted; I had lived with it all my life on both sides of the border. But as I looked at the faces of the 58 other candidates, as I read the list of countries where they had lived, I experienced a deeper understanding of the concept.
A second lawyer was actually a young man who, at age 7, fled political tyranny with his family and arrived on the shores of the U.S.A. with no English and nothing but the clothes on their backs. His message was that the American Dream is real. If you want to succeed in America, if you work hard for it, if you choose to better yourself, you can do it. Interesting that the three youngest people in the group, and the three candidates who demonstrated the most attitude during two hours in the waiting area, were from his former country. I wonder what they heard.
Another lawyer with a fine baritone and good pitch led the citizenship candidates in singing "America." I hadn't expected to be moved to tears by anything that day. After all, the event started as more or less a "hurry up and wait" kind of an ordeal, but the song of the heart brought up a well of tenderness in me toward the principles upon which the United States of America was built. I hadn't expected that sort of resonation.
As unlikely as it might sound, the heightened sensitivity I brought to the day may have been fostered somewhat by the 'One Hundred Questions' booklet, that list of possible questions for the civics exam. If a government text could ever be described as apolitical, I believe this one came close. Very few documents are that completely respectful of varying international ideology in structuring one hundred salient matters of history and culture. Have to admire it.
Last night my friends gave me a dinner party: WELCOME TO THE USA, CITIZEN JEAN.
Causes Jean Stringam Supports