Have you ever been to a Naturalization ceremony? Neither had I, until last month. And I was so taken back by it, I called my husband, Dick, asking him to please come share in the experience.
There were nearly 700 candidates, literally from A to Z. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. In all, 87 countries. Each there to become a United States citizen. There were over 1,000 witnesses, just like me, who came to support, applaud and congratulate a friend or family member.
The ceremony was held during Constitution Week. I didn’t even know we had such a designation. Did you? And therein lies my embarrassment. Our newest citizens of the United States knew more about the specifics of our Constitution than I did. I was BORN here, and passed the 8th grade Constitution test to advance to high school. And then I took our history and freedoms for granted. Thankfully, Judge Shadid, who presided over the ceremony, did his best to prevent more of "me" from happening. He invited 500 Peoria School District 150 8th graders to watch the proceedings. To see, in person, those who also had been studying to pass the Constitution test...just like them. But yet, not like them. And who better to extend that invitation than Judge Shadid, whose grandfathers, Shadid and Unes, had been naturalized in 1919! There he was, a Federal Judge, grandson of two immigrants, welcoming almost 700 new naturalized citizens.
Thank you to DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the League of Women Voters, for assisting with the ceremony and helping our newest citizens prepare to pass the test of the Constitution of their new country and for registering them to vote after taking their oath!
Constitution Week is the commemoration of America’s most important document. It is celebrated every year during the week of September 17-23. And how do I plan to observe it from now on? By going online and taking the test every year. It’s the least I can do to live up to my own citizenship.
Congratulations to my friend, THAO, who now also calls the United States her home too!