This morning, at the Miami Convention Center, my daughter in law was one of 3,000 people who swore the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, becoming full fledged American citizens. Actually, she was one of 6,000 people, because there was to be a second ceremony beginning at 1:00 p.m.!
We had no idea what to expect when we headed toward the convention center at 7:15 this morning. Within a block of the place, we could already see the masses of people and cars cramming the surrounding sidewalks and roadways. None of us handle crowds very well, and it was little disconcerting when the security guards abruptly separated us into two lines, sending Nantana off on her own before we had an opportunity to settle on a meeting place or exit strategy. With a lot of neck craning, we managed to catch of glimpse of her as she entered the convention center, so we at least had an idea where she was seated.
The ceremony itself was very nice, and included a video presentation called "The Faces of America," a photo montage portraying immigrants throught the country's history, comments from the national Secretary of Immigration, and, of course, the mass swearing of the Oath.
I was particularly interested in the "roll call" of nations being represented. As each applicants country of origin was read, they were to stand and remain standing. Of course, since we were in Miami, the great majority of new citizens came from Cuba and The Dominican Republic. But, there were also at least 50 other countries represented as well.
For Nantana, this brings an end to almost nine years of dealing with the INS, a process she and Brian began back in 1998 when they applied for her K-1 visa (or "fiancee's visa" as it's also called!) They've spent lots of time and money making sure they followed all the proper procedures and did everything correctly. When she decided to apply for citizenship, she did all the research, studied hard, and scored a perfect score on every test. That's the kind of woman she is - she gives her best effort to everything she does, and she gets things done the way they should be. She deserves every right and privelge associated with being an American citizen. This country is lucky to have her - and so is our family!
Congratulations, Nantana :)