Monday, July 14, 2008

Naturalization Ceremony

The ceremony. The moment it really happened. The date I had been waiting for. Quite impatiently too. The culmination of all the forms, all the money, all the hardships, all the hoop-jumping. The ceremony!

We were ordered to report to the Strawberry Banke Museum at 9:30am. I didn't trust us being in time there during the holiday traffic, so we spent the night in a hotel in Portsmouth. The boys enjoyed the complimentary breakfast, especially the sugar bomb cereals.

We got there nicely in time, found the bath rooms, as not to have to pee during the ceremony, and politely declined the large free coffee for that same reason. I was wondering about the sanity of offering people lots of coffee and then require them to sit for a few hours. I did take the free bottled water though, felt I needed to get good value for my naturalization money ^^

We sat and we sat and we sat and we waited. I spent my time chatting with the people around me, and making fun of the program which had a list of home countries, but forgot to mention countries like Belgium, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. Although there was another copy circulating which did include those countries, but was black and white instead of red and blue letters. No idea why they did it that way. It felt like a small logistical mess up, but they did all the big things right, so we didn't care.

At 11am, the ceremony started. We watched the presentation of the colors. We got speeches about the awesomeness of it all. We took the Oath of Allegiance, giving up our old citizenships. That part for me was the most important of the ceremony. Not Dutch anymore, but American. It still feels weird. Giving up a citizenship was a new experience for me. My identity always was tied into the 'I am Dutch' and now am adjusting to 'I am American' Happily so, but it still is a big change.

We got congratulated by President George W. Bush (on a recording) and we got a personal letter from Bush to welcome us to American citizenship. Just like all the other 15,000 people who got naturalized on July 4th of 2008. I felt very special ^^. We listened to the national anthem, and to 'Proud to be an American' and waved our flags. We listened to them telling us about America the best and the most powerful. There were television cameras and radio reporters. I was so happy I wasn't sitting in the first row, I don't think I would have done a good job of replying to 'What does this day mean to you?' if they had shoved a television camera into my face.

It was quite interesting. They did a great job of organizing it and making it very American. We even all ended up with the correct citizenship certificate, which took some logistical juggling on their part, I was impressed. During the ceremony, all 194 of us, from 57 different countries, became Americans. Of course, my friend had to point out that most likely I was the only one who went to the ceremony with her GPS, ready to go geocaching right after ^^. Just look at the picture. Please also notice the big American flag and bracelet, both made by Kate.

2018 update: TEN YEARS now! Wow, it has been quite a ride. I am wishing that the USA will be just as welcoming to current and future immigrants as it was to me and I will use my voting power to achieve that!


Wendy said...

I am so excited for you! I got a little teary reading about the ceremony.

Kathy said...

Congratulations Karen. It looks like it was a very special day!

NannyOgg said...

Thank you, I am still uber thrilled about it all ^^


Rebecca said...

How profound, never really thought about how it would feel for someone.