Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Ceremony & An Aquarian Vision

On Friday the Naturalization Ceremony proceeded as planned, though with much unexpected waiting time.

After staying just south of the city center overnight Thursday, we set off downtown around 8am, Friday and found a carpark close to our venue. We listened to the car radio until 9, then wandered up to the Courthouse. A few people had already arrived and were going through the usual "take off your shoes and walk through the archway, empty your pockets, take off your belt, and put your bags here to go through the scanner" routine. We joined them, duly passed through, having been proved pure and without sin.

The Ceremonial Courtroom is on the 3rd floor. Already in the corridor a group of people had gathered and were being informed by an official of proceedings to come. She said that the actual ceremony would not start until 12 noon, there would be a large number of applicants. Paperwork must first be processed. Meanwhile family and friends could wait in an adjoining courtroom, or visit a snack bar on the ground floor.

After a while I moved into the designated courtroom to await arrival of INS officials, my husband waited in the courtroom nextdoor. The paperwork, I eventually found out, entailed waiting to be called up to INS officials at a bank of desks, hand in our greencards, check and sign our Naturalization Certificates, and be handed a form to make the change in our Social Security status. We were also given a seat number for the ceremony. A separate bank of seats for the 140 applicants was arranged to the right of the judges' bench. Paperwork processing seemed interminable, it was well over an hour before my own name was called.

At 11.30 applicants were told to take their seats, according to the number they'd been given (mine was 69 - no sly grins please!) By this time my husband had managed to slide into a seat towards the back of the Ceremonial Courtroom, now filling rapidly with families and friends of applicants. The overflow, and there was a large one, was accommodated in another court equipped with a large screen for viewing the ceremony.

At exactly noon, five judges filed in. Everyone rose as the judges took their places on the bench. The chief judge, a female, welcomed us, said a few words then handed over to a designated INS official to "present" the 140 applicants who came, we were told, from 42 different countries. The official spoke briefly then named, in alphapbetical order, the native countries of all the applicants, asking each to stand when their country was called. I was the only one of the 140 from the UK. Every continent was represented. This, of course, was just one of many similar ceremonies, held monthly in three areas of Oklahoma, and regularly in every one of the other 49 states. I find this a mind-boggling proposition!

Next, we, the applicants, were asked to stand, raise our right hands, and repeat after the Clerk of the Court the words of the Oath of Allegiance. Each of the five judges then spoke briefly, after which the Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all present. The judges then left and a video of President G.W. Bush, welcoming us as new citizens, was shown, followed by another video of scenes of American life, a patriotic song playing in the background.

I hadn't expected to feel as emotional as I did. I joked later that it was the sight of G.W. Bush that made my cry, but I lied. I had an overwhelming sense of the nobility of the original vision for the United States, as I sat there in the midst of 140 people, born in so many different countries. Many of my companions had experienced a far greater struggle than I'd had to reach this point. The thought passed through my mind then that the USA is truly an Aquarian country. Whatever chart is used by astrologers cannot change the fact that, in essence the vision was, and is, pure Aquarius. There have been broken dreams and wrong turnings, but beneath it all, I'm confident that vision remains intact.

Applicants were then asked to file out in seat number order to officially receive their Certificates of Naturalization, and some other paperwork, along with a small US flag - I can be seen waving mine in the photograph immediately below. The second photo, taken in our hotel room, shows the end result of the journey I embarked upon back in 2004 - my Certificate of Naturalization.





Reunited with my husband, I was happy to see that his son, daughter-in-law and grandson had also been present in the adjoining room watching the ceremony. We all went off to enjoy a celebration lunch, by-passing a huge and very slow-moving line of folks waiting to process their Social Security amendments at a desk out in the corridor. We decided to deal with this little matter at our local office early next week, rather than wait for what could be a further hour or two at the court.

A remark of one of the judges has stayed with me. His words: "The United States of America is no longer just your home, now it is your country."

18 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh congrats, T. Well done! I remember bawling my eyes out at my Oath of Citizenship in Canada.
Now you vote: go gettem, girl!
XO
WWW

Twilight said...

Thank you WWW! Voting will be top of my agenda - you can be sure of that! :-)

Twilight said...

I received this by e-mail from my husband's elder daughter, and copy it here with her permission:


"I am so very, very sorry to have missed your big day. Believe me I would rather have been there, long wait and all, than where I was.

I was there in spirit, watching the clock, imagining delays, knowing it wouldn't happen at exactly 9:30. I worked with Atul Raj that morning, who told me about his experiences in the same pursuit.

I just read your blog. You bring a tear to my eye. I am always
surprised, too, by the emotion that can well up at certain moments, no matter how stiff one's upper lip may be.

Forgive me for repeating myself, but I can't help but admire your
sticking to this long task. It is hard to put myself in your shoes --
to want to live somewhere else, to want to go through such a process,
to think it might be worth the headache. But, you have made me a more thoughtful citizen by your example. I am who I am and I may not be a better citizen, I may not pay more attention to the machinations of our country, but I will not take the privilege of my life here for granted.

While I'm not the most flag-waving, president-hugging patriot, I have always felt this was a great country to live in and was glad I was born here. I don't really know enough about other places for the next statement to be well-informed, but: I can't think of a better place to live. (Canada seems interesting, though.)

So, again, WELCOME! CONGRATULATIONS! IT'S OVER! I hope you can relax
now!

PS - I am curious: You said you were the only one from the UK. Which
country seemed to have the most at the ceremony?

(from "K")

Twilight said...

Thank you so much for that "K"!

In answer to your question - the biggest group, by far, came from Mexico. We reckoned they accounted for a quarter to a third of the whole group. When we did a rehearsal of the stand-up/sit down thing, before the ceremony started the large uprising of the contingent from Mexico raised loud laughter! :-D

There wasn't a significantly large group from anywhere else, as far as we could see. I recall one person from Germany, one from Greece, two from Iran, three or four from People's Republic of China, one from Russia, I think three from the Philippines, one from Ivory Coast, one Ghana, one Australia, India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Trinidad.... the rest have become a blur!

The Next President of The United States said...

Wonderful to have you a part of The Great Experiment. We need all the test subjects we can get, you know?!

Very proud of you for enduring the process, without throwing up your hands and just returning to the Isles, or taking an automatic weapon to the INS offices! (Ooops, I probably just became a "suspect" in the Office of Homeland Security for that remark!!)

Hope this Americanization turns out to be all you're hoping. We're certainly pleased to have you in our clan. (Ooops, now I've made a reference to "clan" and am probably on an FBI "watch list!" Ah, well!)

Of course, I do expect that now you're a voting citizen, that I can count on your all-important vote in November?! After all, according to an e-mail I received last week at my political campaign headquarters at The Banner, an astute fellow in Duncan has observed. "Your nonsense makes more sense then anything the other people running are saying!!" So, vote Gemini!

And welcome aboard. We must raise a glass soon!

Twilight said...

Thank you kindly, TNPOTUS !

LOL! Shouldn't you be on one of those Rainbow Tours of Europe and the Middle East, telling the world how wonderful you are? It's the in-thing just now. ;-)

I tend to agree with your reader - your nonsense is quite fetching, and that's a lot more than can be said about the words of certain other politicians currently in the limelight. I may yet "write you in" on 4 November!

Yes, we must! (That sounds unfortunately like the "Yes we Can" I prefer to forget).


Your theatrical alter ego will be surfacing again soon, we'll look forward to that. Hey - there's an ideal opportunity for some Gemini stumping!

Starry Night Astrology said...

Congratulations! Its good to see someone triumph in the face of our bureaucracy!

Twilight said...

Thank you, Starry Night Astro !

They don't make it easy - that's for sure. :-)

anthonynorth said...

Congratulations. It's over now. A long road. Time to take it in, relax, refresh yourself.

Twilight said...

Thank you, AN! Yes, I just have to tie up the loose ends now - change Social Security status and apply for a US passport - then it'll be truly done and dusted! :-)

R J Adams said...

Congratulations! You stuck it out and achieved something that meant so much to you. I'm truly glad - though personally I'd have choked on the Oath of Allegiance. ;-)

Twilight said...

Hi RJ
And thank you!
I understand your feelings about the Oath. I originally had reservations about it myself, but a strange thing happened to the way I felt after Rev. Wright came on the scene. I don't understand it exactly, but I just began to feel protective of all that's good here, and there is plenty. I found his words so objectionable that they provided the motivation I needed to be able to swear the Oath without compunction.

As I often say - "it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good" ;-)

(You can arrange for a modified version of the Oath, by the way.)

Shanna said...

Congratulations!

--from a fellow non-native Oklahoman ;-)

LUNZILLAZ said...

congrats! yay!

Twilight said...

Shanna and Lunzillaz

Hi there to both - and thank you for stopping by and for your congrats!
:-)

Dunyazade said...

Congrats!

I don't know you but as I was reading this, I was getting emotional too! lol!

Twilight said...

LOL, Dunyazade! but I think I understand. There's something about the original concept the United States of America stood (and, at its best) stands for, which is very, very touching.

Twilight said...

And thank you, Dunyazade!