Thursday, August 23, 2012

God bless America

The capitol was gleaming in the morning sunlight. That's my shadow in the crosswalk.

I woke up early yesterday as always, but instead of sitting on the sofa drinking coffee, I got dressed up and walked down to Room 20 (the "ceremonial courtroom," the judge told us) in the U.S. District Court of DC to witness the ceremony in which a friend officially became a U.S. citizen at last. He is a Brit who loves America. 

It was so cool! The experience was healing on many levels. To be in a courtroom in which everyone is happy was a revelation for sure. Not that I've been in so many courtrooms, mind you, but for instance the time I showed up to contest a speeding ticket, no one was happy, including the judge. My experience as a juror in a criminal trial ended abruptly when I burst into tears and couldn't stop sobbing. Though perhaps I was the unhappiest person in that room, not to mention the most embarrassed, I don't think anyone there was feeling chipper either. It was a hate crime trial, so very very sad and ugly.

I also had to go to court to finalize my divorce. That was not a happy environment either.

But people gathering to take the oath and become U.S. citizens? That is a happy occasion. People were smiling, snapping pics of each other. We friends and family of those being naturalized were jazzed for them. It was really a great experience.

The most moving part, for me, was the role call when each person's name and original country was announced. I expected to see a lot of folks from central America and Africa, and indeed there were many from those locations. But there were people from everywhere - Finland, Bosnia, Bulgaria, France, the U.K., Germany, S. Korea, Taiwan. It was very moving.

Not as moving was the oath they were required to take. They had to promise to take up arms for their country - yikes - and to renounce allegiance to "foreign potentates." Hmm. My friend is a citizen of the U.K. who now holds dual citizenship, hence he doesn't have to renounce his allegiance to the queen. Thank god! I imagine he wasn't the only one there to achieve dual citizenship. No matter, they all held up their right hands and swore to it.

A member of the DAR gave a little speech before the ceremony began. My friend said he could have lived without that. Indeed. Except the ancestors had to be acknowledged in order for the ceremony to work. That was one way to call them in.

The experience brought to mind the fact that we know exactly how and when our country was founded and who the founding fathers were. England was not founded all at once by a certain group of people. It coalesced gradually after which somebody somehow decided who would be king. I bet that was an interesting decision-making process. Wow.

I haven't heard from the stalker since Tuesday, a very good thing. Maybe she read yesterday's post and will bugger off. Ya think? Or perhaps this is my dream, but in any case, may it be so.



ellen abbott said...

I wonder lately, if I am ever in a courtroom situation where I will have to swear in the name of god what will happen because it would be meaningless. I don't do religion and I do not have a 'holy' book to swear on. I'm not an atheist but I definitely don't believe in that god.

Meri said...

Good riddance to your stalker -- may she take her energy elsewhere and cleanse the gunk she's accumulated.

Reya Mellicker said...

May it be so!

Ellen ever since that unfortunate jury experience, I make sure that I am not chosen. I don't have to lie. When they ask if I can be impartial, I say no I can't. I have values and history and can not separate myself from them. If they aren't satisfied I go on a rant about how none of the other jurors can either, or the attorneys or judge. They always release me.

Steve Reed said...

Sounds like a good experience, though I wish our citizenship oath wasn't so militaristic. Ugh!

Kerry said...

This is very wonderful.

I've had to serve as a juror more than once, and it isn't a place where smiles abound.

Makes me want to go watch a citizenship swearing-in.