So my naturalization oath day finally arrived. Â It in Pomona, which is about 60 miles from here, and they said to arrive at 12:30. Â So I set off around 11, and arrived around12 (unusually clear traffic for LA). Â When you arrive it’s pretty much a case of follow the signs. Â There was a huge queue of cars at the gate (gate 17, not 14 as they listed on the note), and they charge $9 for parking.
Then just follow the streams of people into the fairground, it was quite a long walk (about half a mile total), and I’m glad it was not too hot.
Then we are separated out into “Future Citizens” and “Family and Friends”. Â I joined the “Future Citizens” line (click any of these photos for big versions)
Eventually we all get inside, there’s a bunch of tables where they take away your green card (gone forever!) and write a number on your appointment letter.
Then we were given small American flags and sat down, and waited for the ceremony to begin. Â This seems to take rather a long time, and I think we actually start around 1:30.
That’s the last photo I took. Â If you look in the upper left you can see a small area for family and friends to view the ceremony. Â I think that space is very limited, crowded standing room only, and a lot of people ended up outside. Â The ceremony started with some calling to order (seing as how it was actually a court, with a Judge and all). Â Pretty much the first thing we did was stand a take the oath:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
This was done by the Judge reading it out a bit at a time, and everyone (3500 people) repeating it. Â This was not so simple, as the sound system was terrible, and it was hard to hear what he was saying, especially with words like “abjure” and “potentate” in there. Â Still, we got through it, and then everyone clapped and waved their flags.
Next someone gave a speech, which I think was about the history, honor, and responsibility of being an American citizen. Â Unfortunately I was only able to hear one word in ten.
Next they played us a video of Lee Greenwood singing “God bless the USA“, set to a montage of images of America – Steel Mills, Mountains, Birds, Oceans, People, etc. Â This seemed a little asecular to me, but what can you do.
We then pledge allegiance to the flag, sang the national anthem, and that was the ceremony over. Â We were shuffled back to the tables where we went the the table number we were given earlier to collect our certificates.
A that point you are done and can leave. Â But I chose to go and apply for a passport in the next building. Â This took another hour, with the long line. Â Plus they take away your certificate (will be mailed back later), and you are technically not allowed to make a copy of it, so you will be left without evidence of citizenship during that time, except for the reciept they give you, and the letters you had from earlier. Â Passports take 2-4 weeks, so although I’m a fully legal American citizen now (feels a bit odd writing that), the process is not quite over.
[Update:Â My passport arrived in three weeks, with the certificate mailed separately]