Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Citizenship Day 2012

Yesterday was not only Citizenship Day, but it was also Constitution Day.  Usually our family does not celebrate Citizenship Day formally, but September 17, 2012 was different.

IT Prof and I drove to the Dole Institute at the University of Kansas in Lawrence yesterday for a special ceremony.  Twelve years ago our now son-in-law, The Clown, walked across the Arizona or New Mexico desert (he really isn't sure where) on a dangerous path to the United States.  Since then, he met and married our daughter, really upgraded his mother's home in Mexico, returned to Mexico, received his waiver (thanks to many people), returned home to Kansas, was present for the birth of our grandson, received his permanent residency, and passed his citizenship test.  Oh, and during that same period, he financed the college educations of his two younger siblings who still live in Mexico.  Yesterday was the end of his journey to America and the beginning of his life as an American.

It was the first time I was ever in the Dole Institute.  It seems like a nice building without being too excessive.  It does have two beautiful stained glass windows in the lobby.

Not inappropriately for former Senator Bob Dole, one of the windows symbolizes the Kansas plains where the senator grew up.

The flag represented on the other window is not inappropriate either in a building named after Senator Dole.

The U.S. District Court does not usually meet in the lobby of the Dole Institute, but, yesterday, being Citizenship Day, was special.

We arrived at the Dole Institute early enough that we had a chance to sit in really good seats.

The Clown's Wife persuaded IT Prof to read The Hunger Games off her iPhone before the ceremony started.  (He didn't finish the book before court was called to order.)

Omaha thought Grandpa had the right idea, so before the ceremony he "read" Rudyard Kipling's How the Elephant Got His Nose off my NookColor.  (The NookColor has a feature for some of the children books in which someone with a much better voice than mine narrates the book out loud.)
The photo above is of The Clown while he was still a Mexican national.  He was sitting with the other ninety-six future American citizens in the lobby, where the swearing-in ceremony would take place.

Our family was watching the ceremony from the "children's room" on account of Omaha, so the photo above of the presiding judge, The Honorable John W. Lungstram, is one I snapped off the video screen. The children in our room were too young to recognize the solemnity of the occasion, but it was a big day for their mom, dad, etc. to become a citizen of the same country the children were already citizens of by birth.


The photos above are from the program for the ceremony.  Ninety-seven people became American citizens in Lawrence, KS yesterday, but the ceremony never dragged and was incredibly meaningful.

However, since Omaha is only three years old, his toy construction equipment was a helpful diversion for him, even though it was his father's big moment.
Unfortunately, the line of new citizens was moving too quickly for me to take a really good photograph of one of America's newest citizens just as he received his naturalization papers.  But, I believe it was the first photograph of The Clown as an American, so I am posting it anyway.
And, what did The Clown do first thing after he became an American citizen?  He registered to vote.

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