On Friday, November 4, 2011, I drove to the home of my friend, Rathnaa, in Rogers, Arkansas. She had asked me to accompany her to her Naturalization Oath Ceremony 70 miles south, in Fort Smith. For a number of reasons, I was thrilled to go with her.
Over the five or so years I've known Rathnaa, we never talked much about her citizenship. At some point, I became aware that she lived here on a work visa. About a year ago, she started talking about becoming a citizen.
She took the process very seriously, studying all the books and pamphlets given to her. She agonized over studying for the citizenship test, some weeks prior, like a young person about to graduate with honors. She wanted it to be perfect.
When we arrived, we learned there were 17 people in her "class" that would be welcomed as new citizens. Some were from China, some from Africa, one from Australia, several from Mexico, South and Central America. One, I believe, was from Switzerland. One by one, they proudly stood up, swore their oaths, and received their certificates. Congratulations on becoming a U.S. citizen, my friend.