Bells of Freedom

Today I became a US citizen. Those of you who know me, know that I’m Irish born, that I’ve lived in Ireland, Israel and England before the United States. Those who know me really well, know that the US is where I have lived longest outside of Ireland (and only by 5 years).

Why now? I’ve been here almost 12 years, arriving just 2 weeks before the horrific events of 9/11. Our plans to return to Israel are no secret, so why have I taken that step to become a United States citizen?

It has always been my intention – I have been eligible for citizenship for at least 5 years. But it’s not cheap, and there were always other things that had to be paid for – tuition, for example. I have never been here illegally, so there was never any rush. But it was something I wanted to do. The United States, for all its faults (and what country is perfect?) is an incredible place. The American dream, though perhaps more difficult to achieve today, still exists. Anything, it seems, is possible here.

The process, which I began in April, has been smooth and relatively easy. The initial filing of papers was the most complicated part, as it requires going through years of passport stamps to show how many days I have been out of the country since I first arrived. (This is probably the only time I have been grateful that we don’t travel much!) Once the paperwork was filed I had to go for biometrics testing, which includes fingerprinting and photographs.

Once biometrics are completed, and USCIS has confirmed that you are who you say you are, you are approved for the next step. The interview. USCIS provides you with a booklet, comprised of 100 questions. At the interview you are asked up to ten questions, of which you must answer six correctly. I’m a bit of a history buff, so I enjoyed studying, and my kids enjoyed testing me. At my interview I answered the first 6 questions correctly, passed the reading, writing and English test (yes, even native English speakers have to do that) and my application was approved in front of me.

Today I had my oath ceremony. As I stood in the room, with 101 other new citizens from 32 countries, I was struck by how lucky I am. I have become a US citizen because I wanted to. There were people from Cuba, Haiti, Romania, Belarus, Russia, Jamaica, The Dominican Republic, Trinidad and more. (I was the only Irish person) I have only ever known freedom, no matter where I have lived. But there were people in that room with me today for whom US citizenship is a necessity, because it grants them the only true freedom they have ever had.

Me about to take the naturalization oath

Me about to take the naturalization oath

My husband’s grandparents came to my ceremony. This was a big deal for them, especially for his grandmother. She was born in the US, but her parents and older sister came here from Russia to escape the pogroms, in which they lost their other child, their son. She remembers her mother taking English and American civics lessons before becoming a US citizen, some 80+ years ago.

So while freedom is something I sort of take for granted, because I’ve never experienced anything else, today was still very special as I took that oath, with so many others for whom freedom has never been a given. I am proud to be an American. God Bless the United States of America.

After the ceremony, with my naturalization certificate.

After the ceremony, with my naturalization certificate.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rebekah
    Jul 30, 2013 @ 15:46:49

    Congratulations. Unawares of your special day, but in the spirit of it, my husband and I today went to the Broward County Court in Deerfield to fight for our right to a Judge trial to dispute petty driving infractions. Here is my gift to you – Madison Rising – The Star Spangled Banner http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8C7i9kdEf8

    Reply

  2. vanessabrooksceo
    Jul 30, 2013 @ 19:46:38

    Thank you Rebekah!

    Reply

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