February 10, 2006

Proud

So I'm now an American citizen. And today I'm leaving my new country. The symbolism surrounding this whole thing would be overwhelming for a psychologist...

So I was sworn in on Tuesday at the Masonic Center in San Francisco as a US Citizen. It's a modern auditorium with two floors. Shirl was relegated to the viewing gallery above (which is where all the pictures were taken), while I got to take my place amongst the 1215 other folks getting sworn in with me from a total of 93 different countries.

I think these things are typically supposed to be very moving for the participants, and I have to admit there was a moment when we were singing the national anthem and the 60 year old Chinese guy next to me started crying when I was close to being moved. I was moved for him at least. And it was pretty moving to see all these people from all these different countries and to imagine what it meant to them and what they'd been through to get there.

But for me? Well, yes it has been quite a journey to get here, what with being thrown out of the country and everything, but I didn't feel that emotional about the whole thing. Obviously it was all a little different for me as the real reason I was getting citizenship was so that I don't have to keep coming back here every six months now that we live in London (ironically), and also because I'm not escaping persecution or something like that. But if that was the case, why did the Canadian guy two rows ahead of me spring out of his seat with the pride of a two year old who's successfully completed their first bathroom visit? Too funny.

I just found it hard to get excited (or proud) about the whole thing when they followed up the Oath (the part where we're all officially citizens) with "Proud to be an American" blaring over the sound system. I took my eyes from the screen to see what everyone else was making of it. Everyone else seemed glued to the screen. I guess my cynicism isn't infectious. Although the opening guy (the compere, MC, what-have-you) was pretty funny, That was nice. His best joke was when talking about the lyrics to the National Anthem which we'd be singing later, he cautioned us not to confuse "Oh say can you see" with "Jose, can you see?".

So anyway, the symbolism. Well, I'm there at the ceremony getting my citizenship, and just after I'm handed my certificate of citizenship, I discover I've lost my British passport. So that was a major downer on things (sorry, Shirl) because I really needed it to fly home with three days later. And what happens? A US Citizen, who is there with his French wife for her swearing in, finds it and hands it into the British Embassy, where I pick it up later that day. Forget jammy (which I know I am), just ponder the metaphorical meaning of a US Citizen finding my British passport for me...

Posted by mthaddon at February 10, 2006 11:21 AM
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