Until last week, I never thought of Independence Day as anything more than fireworks, BBQs, and a reason to dress up in a red, white, and blue outfit. But after attending the U.S. naturalization ceremony at Seattle Center on July 4, I’ve a newfound appreciation for my American citizenship.
As I watched more than 480 people from Togo, Mexico, the Philippines, and dozens of other countries take their oaths of citizenship to become Americans, I realized how lucky I am to live here. I thought to myself, how cool it is that all these people come from such different cultural backgrounds, yet are all following the same dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.
It feels like many U.S.-born people take for granted the advantages of living in America and the privilege of citizenship. At the ceremony, though, it was clear to me that these immigrants understood, and had worked hard to get to this point. (Just take a look at the questions on the U.S. civics test they had to take as part of their citizenship application – I’d bet a number of U.S. natives would have a tough time getting a passing score!)
As I observed the crowd, I saw the hope and excitement on the faces of the immigrants waiting to take their oath of citizenship. One man in the very front row was even wearing his U.S. Army uniform. Here was someone who was so dedicated to our country, he was willing to serve in our military even though he wasn’t officially a citizen yet. How fitting that he should take his oath on the 4th of July!
By the end of the ceremony, I wiped tears of happiness from my face. Watching the newly minted American citizens wave their U.S. flags proudly in the air – now that’s what I call a patriotic moment.