8/30/10

My World - Citizenship Ceremony


On Friday I became a US Citizen and as promised, here is my special day in more detail.


The ceremony was held in the Federal Courthouse in OKC on the 3rd floor in this very impressive and imposing courtroom. All 100 candidates for citizenship were checked in first, then we were rehearsed by our USCIS case officers and the show got underway promptly at noon.


The Hubster had a prime seat at the front of the courtroom and recorded it all.


After some introductions by the judge, we were all introduced by our home country and had to stand and wave our flag to applause/cheers from the onlookers. I was almost last being from the UK and there were 3 fellow Brits with me. This was the largest group from Mexico and they caused some laughter with their enthusiasm.


Then we were sworn in with the Oath of Allegiance by the Clerk of the Court. This was when I found myself getting emotional, I had a definite lump in my throat but my friends told me later I was one of many clearly fighting their emotions.


Then we had a video address by the President, welcoming us as fellow Americans which was also moving. But the humdinger tearjerker was the video that followed of Lee Greenwood singing God Bless the USA, with images of new citizens and the USA in all its glory. There was barely a dry eye in the room at the end and the collective national pride was a tangible thing.


Judge Gary Purcell said "I was warned I might find it hard to speak after that by my honorable colleague and he was not wrong" as he struggled to regain his composure and voice! This was his first citizenship ceremony in 31 years as a judge, and it very clearly mean't alot to him as well. He went out of his way to make us feel how much we had achieved and he just really added to the whole special feeling of the day.


Then one of our 'classmates' made a speech about his journey to citizenship. Dr. Calin Prodan was from Romania and grew up under communism and his heart felt speech about freedom touched everyone.


Here I am smiling for the camera!


This gentleman was the representative for Voter Registration and I shall not forget him in a hurry. His personality very much lived up to his appearance - eccentric, but having said that he was so nice with us all.


The judge addressed us all personally as his 'fellow Americans' and got a rousing response.


Then he told us he wanted us to do something never done before in a courtroom there, we were to make the loudest noise possible and he would only leave when he felt we were loud enough! So the whole courtroom chanted U-S-A with him as our cheerleader, shouting "louder" until he thought we were at our limit and he waved and left.


We spent another 40 minutes collecting our certificates, taking pictures under the seal and flags, changing our status with Social Security officials and registering to vote.


The it was off to lunch at Abuelo's in downtown OKC, sadly Pam OKC due to a foot injury only made the ceremony and not the celebratory lunch afterwards, but she kindly supplied the pictures. All of us present agreed the ceremony was really special, the authorities went out of their way to make it moving and memorable for us all. It was also nice to see the formerly scary USCIS case officers let their hair down, have fun, celebrate with us and even crack a joke about "just one more test"!


It was a long day and when we got home around 10:30pm we were met by another surprise!


One of my bestfriends who could not make the trip, had been around to the house and decorated liberally up the path and on the porch with flags and balloons. It was a perfect end to a special day!


I also received beautiful flowers from my 'Glambert' best buddy Mandy and her husband. Much to her disappointment she couldn't come with us, she was really missed and I appreciated their thoughtfulness.


When I got into work this  morning the 4th grade had decorated my desk!


The 1st grade had made me a great big card!


I even had a special banner in the cafeteria and then the whole school sang me a patriotic song and gave me a 'Tony the Tiger' cheer! I also received more special gifts and I had another very special day thanks to my wonderful school and it's faculty.

So that's my final tangle with immigration and there ends a 5.5 year journey to it's culmination. The Hubster and I have been worn out and kind of flat since, we both think it's because we almost don't know what to do now and have been building towards this for so long!

To see some great sights around the globe or join in the fun, go to My World Tuesday

41 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Well, I got teary eyed just reading your post and enjoying your photos! How very moving! I'm really happy and excited for you! What a wonderful day for all of your! Celebrate and enjoy!

Sylvia

Random Treasures said...

Congratulations on your Citizenship. I know that feeling very well. I got naturalized last year. Nice pictures by the way. Enjoy your new status.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

They gave you a great swearing-in ceremony, what a lovely welcome !
You looked so nice in your new outfit, and new hair do....
Wasn't it all so very grand !
Congratulations, and enjoy your new status.

Sarah*G* said...

Lovely photos and I too got a bit teary eyed reading your post and imagining what it must have felt like. I hope one day I can write a similar post to yours.

Sarah in deepest, darkest Lomellina said...

"This was his first citizenship ceremony in 31 years as a judge and it very clearly mean't alot to him as well."

Oh that's lovely, to have your day knowing it was special from top to bottom with no jaded "been there, done that, bought half a million T-shirts" people to take the shine off.

Star said...

Congratulations Sarah! I suppose...?
Blessings, Star

ewok1993 said...

Congratulations! Having gone with the same process myself some 10 years ago, I could definitely relate. Go vote!

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

Congratulations

Expat mum said...

Wow - what a fab experience. Yours was a lot more personal than mine, although our judge was the son of Mexican immigrants and his speech was very touching.
Isn't it amazing how much nicer they are to you once you've got the citizenship? Nothing like dealing with the immigration and visa people.

Lynn said...

Thanks for sharing that. I did not know much about the ceremony. I've seen maybe half a minute of a citizenship ceremony on TV so I figured it was just oath taking and paper paper signing. I'm happy that they went to the trouble to make it special for you.

ρομπερτ said...

Concratulations upon this achievement. Must indeed have felt incredible, being a foreigner for more than six years over here, most felt. Please have you all a good Tuesday.

daily athens

Pam said...

Yay, congrats, fabuloso~

Sherri said...

Sarah, I am so very proud of you and all that you have been through to become a US citizen! You have persevered through all the red tape and you are now an American citizen!! Congratulations to you my friend. I sit her typing this with tears in my eyes :)! I am so glad everyone in your town, school, etc. love you and have shown you all the love that we all feel for you my friend! God Bless America!!

Sandy said...

Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us. I needed to reach for a tissue to wipe the tears while reading this post. I am so thrilled for you. Congratulations!

gigihawaii said...

Wow! What an unbelievable Judge!!! What joy!!!

After all this, you have every right to feel "flat."

Congrats, Sarah!!!

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Thanks everyone for the lovely comments and sorry I reduced some of you to tears, I am touched!

Bethanie said...

I am so glad your experience went as it did. I am still a bit choked up at the patriotism and enthusiasm from everyone involved. Thanks for sharing Sarah.

Linda J. said...

Oh my, I became emotional just reading this post and enjoying the photos. What a fantastic event and thoughtful celebrations!

Al said...

Congratulations! I was smiling as I read your post, as I went through this just over 10 years ago when I got my United States citizenship. In my case it was an outdoors ceremony, and the mayor of Denver spoke in person. I found it very moving.

I also understand your feelings from your post below as I went through the exact same feelings on the day leading up to the ceremony!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I got a little teary eyed as well reading about how the ceremony was made special for you and your fellow new citizens and how your friends and school kids made it special back home.

Gaelyn said...

Such a wonderful culmination to your hard work and stressful times. Hat's off to that judge. I'll bet you're ready for a rest from it all even if it left a gap.

Snippety Gibbet said...

What a wonderful post, Sarah. From start to finish you had me teary eyed. I'm so glad to have you fully fledged as one of our own. You truly are a plus to this country. jan

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh Sarah, This post made me cry. I'm SO happy for you. I know you had a very long journey---but you did it (with hubbie's help)... That is SUPER...

CONGRATS.... I'm thrilled that you are now officially an American citizen... WOW!!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

tqe | Adam said...

Thank you for sharing everything -- it's impressive documentation for an impressive day.

Congratulations!

Arija said...

Congratulations Sarah. It is a big step to take to give up ones country for another. You look so happy in your new allegiance and the ceremony certainly was very emotional for all concerned. I think America got a very good citizen that day and you too can be proud of your new country.

How wonderful that you had so much support from all concerned including the school children and cafeteria staff.

J Bar said...

Interesting ceremony shots.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Regina said...

Congratulations Sarah.
Enjoy!

Winifred said...

Thanks for letting us see your photos. What a great day you all had. COngratulations!

Iota said...

That was so interesting to read. Isn't it different, how the US celebrates itself, and how national pride is considered a good thing? Whereas in the UK, it's considered a bit embarrassing to be proud to be British.

Tony the Tiger, though? He's British, surely? Or are you not talking about the Frosties mascot?

Daryl said...

I got a lump in my throat reading this .. welcome to America, welcome home! Sarah!

I see one of your 'babies' was standing at the door to welcome you home

Rob Inukshuk said...

I too am welling up a little. I know how emotional it can be, FOH went through this here 4 years ago.

What a wonderful day. Very special indeed. Congratulations once again.

George said...

Congratulations again! I'm glad you had a wonderful and moving day. And thank you for joining us.

Carolina said...

So nice to know how it is in details!

I got teary eyed too reading... mine should be 5 years from now or so. I hope I get over that, I hate crying in public, I lose my voice totally!

Florence and Mary said...

Congratulations!

What a great post, thank you for sharing the details of your day,

Victoria xx

Snippety Gibbet said...

This is the second time I've looked at this post and it is the second time I've gotten all teary over it. jan

Pat said...

So cool. I got choked up when you described the video of Lee Greenwood singing "God Bless the USA." What a wonderful, touching and memorable celebration for you and the other 99 new Americans! And then all the decorations and congratulations back at home and at school. This was a GREAT post, Sarah! Thanks for sharing it and congratulations on your new citizenship!

Elaine Warner said...

Congratulations and welcome!

ladyfi said...

Congratulations! And finally... done with all that paperwork!

Kay said...

Thank you so much for sharing this special day with us, Sarah! I loved it all. The photos really give you a feeling of the place and emotion. I am absolutely ecstatic for you and love having you for a fellow American. What a beautiful lesson this was for all the students at your school, too!

richies said...

Just catching up on reading blogs, but wanted to say congratulations and welcome!

An Arkies Musings

Zhu said...

It was fun to read about your ceremony!

I'm French and became Canadian over a year ago and it was very emtional to me.