Yesterday, Friday, I had the privilege of attending a Naturalization Ceremony. This ceremony of the swearing in of new American Citizens is given by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. My nephew, Bruce Miller’s, wife was to become an American Citizen. Rosie was raised in the Philippines, and was in the United States on a Visa while teaching school. I was really impressed by the whole program except what you go through to get into the building. Talk about a mess trying to get on an airplane, it is even worse to go through all that is required to enter the room where the ceremony was to take place. The only difference is you don’t have to take off your shoes. I even had to take off my necklace as well as my glasses. You go through the security door, you are then gone over with a wand. I told the guard that I had a pacemaker and he wasn’t to use the wand, but he didn’t listen. Oh well! I guess it is better to be safe than sorry.

First there was a video called Faces of America. It showed the faces of Immigrants through the years and different people and different views of our Great America. I had forgotten that our former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was a refugee from Yugoslavia coming to this country at the age of eleven to escape her war torn country. She made a wonderful talk. Then all of us stood and sang the National Anthem before the opening remarks by Officer Charles Brotton, Immigration Service Officer. After Officer Brotton’s talk he called the names of the countries represented and the names of the Candidates for Citizenship. There was a middle age couple from Albania, one person from Korea, one from Honduras, one from Vietnam, of course Rosie from the Philippines and there were several from Mexico and I can’t remember if there were others.

The Administration of the Oath of Allegiance and Congratulatory Remarks was given by Christina Olguin, Fort Smith Field Office Director. The Oath of Allegiance is as follows: 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.

Next was a video of welcoming the new Citizens by President Obama.

After the President’s welcome we all stood and said the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Concluding Remark & Presentation of Certificates was given by Christina Olguin the Fort Smith Field Office Director. After the Ceremony the new Citizens were given an opportunity to have their pictures made with the Immigration Service Officer and the Fort Smith Field Office Director as well as with family members.

I asked Rosie what she was most excited about and her answer, "Now I can vote and don’t have to worry about my Visa."

It was hard to hold back the tears because when they were showing the faces of America they showed scenes from Ellis Island. If you have ever been there just seeing the pictures of some of the people who passed through there makes you want to cry. My late step-father, Andrew Szegedin, told about his coming to America from Hungary. His family had spent weeks in the hole of the ship because they could not afford the price of an upper level part of the ship. He told how they all cried when they saw the Statue of Liberty the first time. They were both happy and scared of what lay ahead for the family. As I sat there observing the candidates I was wondering WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH THEIR HEADS.

Family members attending besides me was Sister Jane and brother-in-law J.M., niece Carla Calvert and of course Bruce and Rosie. Brother Jim and wife, Pat, were unable to attend as Jim had a procedure as an out patient that morning. After the Ceremony, Bruce and Rosie treated us to lunch. I was so happy I was invited to attend even if it was as bad as trying to get into Fort Knox to get into the room. If you ever get the chance to attend a Naturalization Ceremony go if you are able. You won’t be sorry.