July 4th 2017, Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts,
A year ago I became a United States citizen. This is what I wrote the day after.
Yesterday, I swore the oath of allegiance to the United States and became a citizen along with 126 people from 47 countries on the village green of Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
The July sun was blazing, the sky was clear and there were no clouds, as I raised my right hand and repeated the words. Repeating the oath along with me was a slice of humanity, on my left was a man from Portugal on my right was my husband, to his right was a young Somali man, also in my row was a Catholic priest from Poland and a woman from Ghana. We immigrants, from every corner of the globe believed in the promise of America and were swearing an oath to uphold the principles it was founded on.
“Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness for all”
The Federal District Court judge, who administered the oath urged us to do our duty as citizens by getting involved in civic life as he welcomed us as new citizens. He told us to vote and even run for office. He acknowledged our countries of birth, and how our upbringing had made us the individuals that we were. I was moved and I felt a sense of awe and wonder that I had not expected.
The entire naturalization ceremony reminded me very much of a wedding ceremony, there was a legal binding ceremony with a judge and an oath, there were witnesses. It felt like I had finally made my relationship with America official and permanent. There is no going back now. Our relationship is signed and sealed.
I believe in the promise of America, the power of the individual to change their destiny. That you are not limited by the circumstances of your birth. If you can dream it, you can do it. It was in early January that I decided that I would apply for naturalization. I sent in my application on January 19th. I had always felt like I belonged here, this was the time to make it count. Do my bit. The ideal that we were all created equal is a principle worth fighting for. The American ideal is worth fighting for.