ST PAUL, Minn. — As I made my way from St. Paul River Centre’s underground parking ramp to its second level ballroom on Wednesday, September 6, 2017, people born in other nations passed by me, but we were all going to the same place, to their Naturalization Ceremony. Their expressions and attire gave away that this day, Citizenship Day for them, was a Big Deal Day. A mixture of anxiousness and excitement filled their faces. Anxious to be on time. Excitement as to what they had worked hard for to get to this day. Their figures were attired in suits and ties, dresses, and beautiful traditional outfits from their countries of origin.
Our ride up the escalator conveniently acted as a metaphor. For those ascending it, they were citizens of one country going up, about to return here several hours later, as citizens of a new one, the United States of America, going down.
(Forgive the quality of these pictures. It was an emotional day for me too.)
Upon our arrival, lines formed in both directions up and down the corridor. They were organized by rows so when they were seated, their green cards and oath letters could be collected and then at the end of the swearing in ceremony, could be given their citizenship papers.
I looked for my son, Joe, to sit with him while we waited to watch his girlfriend, Valeria, and her brother, Rodrigo, both from El Salvador, to become U. S. citizens. Val’s three bosses also came to the ceremony. We caught up with two of them, Jeff and Dan, John having left earlier for a meeting.
On each new citizen’s chair lay an envelope with a folder with instructions for obtaining a new passport as well as the Naturalization Ceremony program.