On the ninth day of Christmas, I celebrate the gift of my country. I have never been so aware of this gift then one day last June when I watched 881 people pledge their allegiance to the United States of America and be sworn in as new citizens. One of them was son-in-law David. They represented the world. They were dressed in their finest representing their country of origin. They were dressed in jeans and T-shirts ready to return to the work they had been doing for years. They were all ages including so many children dressed in red, white and blue because ages 18 and under became citizens when their parents did.
There was one young military airman whose name sounded Arabic who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and then received his citizenship papers because of this three years of service to his chosen country. There was the Asian grandmother (I was not close enough to tell by sight or to ask her country of origin). Her white hair was bent over her cane and an orchid corsage graced her wrist. I would love to have known her story.
And then there were the smiles. As we left the building, we were all wishing congratulations to anyone carrying the certificate of citizenship. David smiled all day ~ and again on the day he voted for the first time. And for all our cynicism and criticism, everyone we told of David’s becoming a citizen stuck out their hand, shook his and offered words of congratulations and pride. Once in a while, it is good to step away from the rhetoric, away from the news, remember who we are and what we stand for and be glad.