naturalization ceremony, I didn't know much about what to expect, so it was pretty interesting. First lesson learned: When they say "it starts at 10:30", what that means is that some people will arrive by then, but they don't actually start the ceremony until after everyone who is going to arrive has had their paperwork checked, and they're all sitting in their seats. So in my case that meant that we actually got going just after 12:30.
Then the interesting part started. First up, they said that we were 643 applicants, from 95 different countries. Then they called out all of the countries in alphabetical order, encouraging everyone to stand up and cheer when their country was called. Not unlike the Olympics… it was an amazingly long time until they got to Canada at which point I did cheer loudly to make my presence known — as if it wasn't already obvious enough due to my Uncle Sam top hat and celebratory garb. Much to my surprise, it was the only such hat that I saw all day. The festive garb was the brainchild and birthday gift from my baby girl, shown with me on the left when we went out for lunch afterwards with my longtime friend, Austin.
The ceremony was actually more interesting than I expected, featuring a very inspirational "keynote" from the Judge — herself an immigrant — who presided over the ceremony. Her quote, which totally enrolled me, was [that I was] “Pledging myself to an enterprise in human freedom”. Yeah ! I totally get it. After the Oath, tears came to my eyes as I sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for my first time as an American Citizen. I was also touched by the symbolism of it being such a rainy day (new life). When I got home I put out a container to catch rain drops and I will use that water as my "Citizenship" contribution this Fall when we do our UUC tradition of combining community water to make ritual water for the coming year.
Which brings me to answering the question everyone asks: Why did I do it ?
Basically, to me it was a mater of Integrity. Technically, I'll always be a Canadian. But I have lived and worked my entire life outside of Canada — years in France but mostly in the USA. And at this point in my life I want to "go home" when I retire — home to my country. And though I have lived elsewhere for almost half my life, deep down I feel like this is my home and always will be. So I just wanted to make the commitment officially and take my rightful place doing my part in “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”. So that's my story and I'm stickin' to it !