Monday night we headed into the city so that we could more easily be on hand Tuesday morning when Gong, my father-in-law, became a citizen. It was rainy both on our drive to NYC and then our drive the next morning to the courthouse (it's still rainy and chilly. I'm back in turtlenecks with the heat on.)
I'd love to say it was a touching and moving ceremony. But for the most part, it was a lot of bureaucracy. It started with security as we checked in and gave up all of our phones. Then, in the grand courtroom, we waited while the court clerks processed the final paperwork of over 140 new citizens. Then we waited for the judge, who took her time. (And how many times did we think to reach for our phones to look something up or pass the time!!) We all rose as she entered. Then she stood as her clerk administered the oath--which had more about taking up arms for the US than I remembered--and then we all said the pledge. She said a few words of welcome and charged them with being responsible, active citizens and good neighbors in their communities. And then she left! At which point, we waited as they called up each person to get their naturalization certificates. It was then that you could see the pride and joy on the faces of many new citizens. We clapped for everyone and cheered loudly when Gong's name was called (his new name! He has shortened his long Thai last name to match Ma's and the family, which she had shortened when she became a citizen in 1982.) Not muarsch really changes for Gong--with a citizen wife and children, he wasn't in danger of being deported. Now he can vote (not for Trump!) and travel more easily on an American passport. Still, he was glad it was done, quite relieved after months and months of paperwork and worry and waiting. The kids gave him a big hug as he left the courtroom and we took some photos near an American flag and a photo of President Obama.
We celebrated at a local Argentine steakhouse. Mmmmm! I could eat chimichurri sauce on anything! It was quite the decadent steak dinner (though, we only toasted with water and soda, since we were in three different cars.)
I'm sure the kids will mainly remember the waiting on the hard court benches, the surrender of our cell phones, and perhaps the steak. But I'm glad they got to see the ceremony.