I did it! I’m finally an American citizen.
I came to this country when I was only 19 years old. Just a kid who couldn’t wait to get out of her small town in Germany. I had big dreams and hopes. I wanted to see the world, meet new people, explore fascinating cultures.
I did all that and more. I’ve lived in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. I went to college, worked, paid taxes, got married (and divorced), and it was here that I gave birth to three incredible American children.
Here I am, twenty-seven years later (oh my!), an American citizen.
For years, I was “only” a permanent resident. I was satisfied with this status. As I got older, the need to “belong” had grown stronger. I no longer felt connected to my home country, but I also wasn’t truly a part of this country. So I applied, studied for the test, passed my interview and took the oath. Now, for the first time in my life, I’ll be able to vote.
I was very emotional during the ceremony which I shared with 60 other men and women from 29 different countries.
My ceremony occurred roughly five weeks after my interview. The day before my ceremony, my daughter, her husband and our friend surprised me by driving all the way from Chicago to Nashville. When they showed up I had tears in my eyes. I was so touched by their love and support. I love them so much and consider myself blessed for having them in my life.
You see, my plan was to attend the ceremony alone (my younger son was in school) and then go about my day as usual. Thanks to my wonderful people, the day turned into a celebration I will never forget.
The ceremony, which took place at the Federal Court House, was a very special event. As anticipated, the court house had no parking. We parked at a nearby lot. Inside the court house we waited for about 15 minutes before I and 60 other men and women were directed to the courtroom. At this time, friends and family had to wait in the hall way.
They asked each one of us whether we’ve taken any trips outside the U.S. since we had our immigration interview. They also asked if we’ve had any traffic or criminal matters. This was also the moment when we turned in our Green Cards and signed the Certificate of Naturalization. Then, they assigned us to our seats and we were asked not to leave the room anymore. This process took over 1.5 hours.
Next, they brought in family members and friends. You can take photos inside the courtroom – even with a professional camera. However, texting, calling or taking videos is not allowed.
Now the ceremony was ready to start. A federal judge presided over it, and his staff helped him arrange things in the courtroom. We said the Pledge of Allegiance. We also went around and introduced ourselves and stated the country we were from. This was probably my favorite part of the ceremony. I was able to see people from all over the world. I wish I could’ve learned their stories. It was a very exciting moment for all of us.
The person introducing each of us to the judge did a fine job of pronouncing our names as best she could. The judge talked for about five minutes. One thing he said I will always remember: “Today is your personal Independence Day.”
He then administered the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Everyone raised their right hand as we were sworn in to be citizens. After that, we waited in line for our citizenship certificate, which is a very important original document. I don’t want to ever lose that. The actual ceremony lasted about 45 minutes.
The first thing I did after I became an American citizen was register to vote.
This country has been my home for pretty much my entire adult life. America has nurtured me and I’m proud to call myself a fellow American. Thank you.