After receiving some pretty tragic news last night about a family member and feeling devastated about it, I had to rally and get ready today for my Oath Ceremony.
We left the house pretty early, because parking is impossible on swear in days. On the way there we had to U-turn and take another route because there was a three-car and a school bus accident (no one was badly injured).
We made it there with plenty of time and I sat with my family (aunts, uncle, my mom, dad and husband) waiting to be called to the ceremony room.
It’s funny because all this time I have felt this fear and apprehension towards the USCIS agents and today they were all ebullient and smiley. They took our resident cards, never to be seen again and handed us all a packet with a holder for the naturalization certificate, a passport application, a booklet about voter registration, an envelope with a letter from President Obama, a small book with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, a Citizen’s Almanac and a page with the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem and the Oath of Allegiance, and a little US flag.
People were actually late, I cannot even fathom it. I have waited so long for this moment that I can’t understand why everyone wasn’t there early or on time. We had to wait until everyone showed up and it started 45 minutes after schedule.
There were 86 of us being sworn in, 32 nationalities, or former nationalities I should say now.
We sang the anthem and saw a video and then the ceremony started. The USCIS Agent spoke fondly of how moments like these ones were what made her job the best job. I could tell she was so excited and happy for us, I don’t think you can fake her enthusiasm and I knew then she is chosen to give the speech at the ceremonies because she feels and believes what she is saying and we new citizens feel moved and appreciated by it.
They called every former nationality (made sure to impress that upon us) and when Colombia was named, eight of us stood up.
I hope people understand that as much as we all want to be citizens, we do not do so lightly. At least I did not do it lightly. I stood there renouncing my born country and I did it honestly, with all my heart because this is my home country now, but it is with a little pain that you let go of that.
After all former nationalities were called, we raised our right hand and pledged our loyalty to the United States of America. To give up loyalty any other country or sovereignty that we were citizens or subjects to, to defend and protect her from all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God.
The lady in front of me was sobbing so hard, I had doubt she actually said the oath out loud.
I had my moments, when tears clouded my eyes, and a knot in my throat made it hard to swallow but they were happy tears (especially when the President spoke to us, welcoming us as US Citizens, what can I say? I love me some Obama)
We waved our flag and smiled and then received our certificates, so crisp and pretty, with our picture in them.We left our numbered chairs to be hugged and kissed by our families and loved ones, by those who stood by us and held our hands and dried our tears and helped us throughout this journey. Dear Husband was in tears, so was my mom and aunts and uncles. I laughed and smiled and kissed them and hugged and just felt overwhelmed by love from them. There they were crying for me and I was so excited and hopeful and in disbelief that I was unable to shed one single tear.
We took a picture in front of the Department of Homeland Security Flag and the US Flag and it felt all sorts of surreal.
I know some people have very heated feelings about immigrants and why we are here and what we do, I know sometimes they don’t know us, our stories, and our reasons. I know sometimes they hate us, sometimes they fear us and I wish they could see inside my heart and my head and know that I am like so many others out there and they are trying to get to where I am. I love this country, I love its people, this is my home now, I will protect it and defend it and do my best to make it even better because it’s officially mine now too. Don’t worry, I won’t let it down.