“Proud to Be An American”

So after almost 19 years in this country, my youngest daughter, Carissa, who was only 6 when we moved to the U.S., became a U.S. citizen today. I saw a picture of a jubilant Carissa, flanked by her husband Paul and the judge presiding over the swearing-in ceremony today in Columbus, Ohio.

There were some odd things and surprises during the proceedings. To begin with, the presiding judge just return from a vacation in Brazil. Then, there was the fact that according to my daughter, most of the new U.S. citizens were not able to speak English. Of 50+ people, only about six or seven could speak English fluently and the vast majority were from Somalia.

This is surprising since the applicants have to submit themselves to a test about American history and government. I have no idea how they could have passed the test. Maybe they can read better than they can speak English.

Another interesting thing was that all the new citizens had to watch a video in which President Obama greeted them. I don’t think he asked for them to vote Democratic, though I suspect the majority will.

Perhaps the most moving moment of the ceremony was when a blind 70-year-old man from Somalia went upfront and when he was told by his friend that he was receiving his certificate as an American citizen, he started shouting, “I love America!”

And the surprise of the day — instead of making the new citizens sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” they made them sing “I am proud to be an American”!

Finally, I was going to attend the ceremony, but in the end, because of my work, I was not able to go. I was sad but when I heard how long it took — three and a half hours from the time she went in — I was sort of glad. The celebration will have to wait.

I am very proud of my daughter and her commitment to her adopted country. I am deeply thankful for her accomplishments in a country that was not of her birth. It is a tribute to the beauty of this country where someone can dream big and see his/her dreams come true. I am humbled by the resolve of my daughter to serve people of this great country, especially those who have no voice.

I look forward to seeing how God is going to use her to make a huge difference in this world.

Congratulations, Carissa!

Ivanildo C. Trindade