Based on your postings on some long past threads about USA, I thought you guys would appreciate this.
My sweetheart and her daughter were naturalized as US citizens yesterday. I am no flag waver and not much on ceremony, but I was surprised at the intense emotional impact the day had on me.
Scores of people filed into a small room of a federal building in Baltimore during the morning hours, being called in turn for their final interview after the long and demanding months of testing and studying and having the FBI check you out top to bottom (not to mention the 250 clams you have to pony up). Those gaining final approval could opt to be sworn in at 3 that afternoon.
So we went to lunch on a beautiful day at a restaurant overlooking the happening Baltimore inner harbor, a waterfront esplande bustling with a city lunch crowd, public live music, down and out derelicts, tourists in town for the leg of the Volvo around the world yacht race that finished here yesterday. The meal was great and we had a couple hours still to kill, so we took a 40 minute water jitney ride around the harbor, seeing Camden Yards and Ravens Stadium, the giant old Domino Sugar plant with a freighter offloading raw sugar for all of our sweet consumption, Ft McHenry, home of the star spangled banner, The wonderfully refurbished "USS Constellation" the last sailing US warship built and the oldest commisioned wardship in the US fleet, etc, etc. Check the picture.
Then back to the building for the ceremony. Indian women in Saris, African guys in ill-fitting suits, Asians with flood pants, Central Americans with gold teeth, a family of five taking the step together, and more, along with my beautiful girlfriend and her beautiful daughter. 38 soon to be Americans with family and loved ones proudly looking on. I saw over one man's shoulder one of his support documents... a birth certificate issue by the socialist republic of vietnam. How bittersweet I am sure must have been the feeling for many. Everyone loves home, but why had these people chosen to make this bold step. Those oft maligned concepts of liberty and freedom and opportunity had faces for me yesterday.
A bureacrat commenced the proceedings with welcoming words and congratulations. Those now moments away from citizenship rose and took the pledge, quite a moment, then all in the room stood for the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Each applicant was called and came up to receive their certificates of naturalization. Applause, hugs, kisses, smiles. I shook handswith everyone I could. Then a brief video message from George W. Not my favorite guy, but the President of the United States nonetheless. I remember his stress on the value placed on all those new citizens remaining linked to their heritage and bringing their cultures with them to enrich and add to ours, and mostly his comment that now they were citizens with every right, honor and responsibility as those who could trace their lineage to a Founding Father.
It blew my mind how much it affected me and I reflect now on how our midday repast and repose symbolized so much of what we are lucky for.
Didn't want to get schmaltzy here, but again, I thought some of you would appreciate this.