For this week's arts and culture column, I dipped a (quickly withdrawn) toe into an arm of the U.S. government.
Here's how the piece begins:
I thought for the 4th of July I’d attend a U.S. naturalization ceremony.
These take place regularly in the Los Angeles area and are open to the public.
So on June 20, a bit before 9 a.m., I showed up at the Pasadena Convention Center. I had trouble finding parking and ended up next to St. Andrew Church on Raymond Avenue and sprinting the several blocks.
Everyone else had arrived an hour early so I was the only person in the airport-type security line. Inside, I found what looked to be the one remaining seat, in the uppermost row, beside a lovely man from India whose wife was being sworn in.
Looking around my immediate vicinity, I saw only one other Caucasian face.
On the stage were three tables, draped with bunting. “Celebrate citizenship, celebrate America” read a large screen. We heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” set to a jaunty military march.
Then a judge swept onto the stage, banged her gavel and announced that court was in session. Under Section 337 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 967 people were about to be sworn in.
I registered scattered phrases. “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty … that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law … that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law … without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion …”
Here my mind wandered and I began devising my own oath...
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.
|SCENES FROM THE DORLAND MOUNTAIN ARTS COLONY|