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A friend of mine became a citizen of the United States on August 21. Her road to citizenship was a long and complex one, and we are fortunate to count her among our number.

I have witnessed some of her arduous journey, and I wanted to be present to see her celebrate this great day. Sitting in the auditorium, I found that this simple gathering was informative and inspiring. 1246 people from 94 countries are new citizens.

I typed the following list of nations and the number of new citizens from those nations into my phone as quickly as possible. As a result, the list is incomplete.

Afghanistan 14
Argentina 2
Armenia 4
Australia 1
Bangladesh 1
Barbados 1
Belarus 6
Bolivia 1
Brazil 7
Bulgaria 3
Burma 2
Cambodia 16
Canada 11
China 46
Colombia 5
Costa Rica
Ivory Coast ?
?
Denmark 1
Ecuador 2
Egypt 5
El Salvador 17
Ethiopia 6
Fuji 26
France 1
Germany 6
Guatemala 6
Honduras 1
Hong king 4
India 160
Indonesia 4
Iran 12
Iraq 13
Israel 6
Italy 1
Japan 3
Jordan 3
Kazakhstan 6
Kenya 8
Korea 1
Kosovo 1
Kuwait 2
K–? 1
Laos 28
Latvia 1
Malaysia 1
Mexico 285
Moldova 17
Mongolia 1
Nepal 2
Netherlands 1
New Zealand 1
Nicaragua 2
Nigeria 6
Pakistan 33
Panama 2
Peru 4
Philippines 185
Poland 1
Romania 12
Russia 19
Senegal 2
Sierra Leon 2
Singapore 1
Slovakia 1
South Africa 2
South Korea 8
Sudan 1
Sweden 4
Switzerland 3
Syria 3
Taiwan 4
Tanzania 1
Thailand 22
Tonga 2
Turkey 1
Ukraine 54
USSR 6
Uzbek 4
Venezuela 2
Vietnam 57
Yemen 3
Yugoslav 1
Zambia 1
Zimbabwe ??

The presentations were done in English, Armenian, and Spanish. In these languages, the people assembled were instructed how to apply for social security cards and were encouraged to register to vote.

THe list of nations and numbers of people from those nations was welcomed with varying levels of cheers. When the announcer announced Zimbabwe as the last country represented, applause boomed in the auditorium, and I could not hear how many Zimbabweans we were welcoming.

A very high-pitched operatic singer offered her version of patriotic song; the 1246 all raised their right hand and took the oath in unison. We all witnessed through our camera lenses. The crowd was friendly and delighted even though the lines for social security cards wrapped around the huge auditorium.

Even for people who had been in the US for a quarter of a century, this ceremony was far more than a technicality. Like a graduation and a wedding, they were making an intentional and meaningful commitment. They elected to pledge allegiance to the United States.

I cannot think of a time I have had to do anything to be a citizen of the United States.

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