Yesterday, November 20, 2013, we became citizens of the United States of America. When we received the letter for the appointment for the Oath Ceremony we remembered that Helen had said for many years that if we ever did it, she wanted to be there. Since we thought that Sarah would have the baby probably a week before that and Helen was a bit sad that she wouldn't see her sister and nephew until Christmas, we checked the airlines. 2 reasons! (not that a loving family really needs a reason to get together ...)
We contemplated several ideas about what to do with William. In the end he came along as well. The 4 of us headed for the Courthouse in Richmond early since they had warned us about parking problems in the letter. The appointment was 11:30 and we were really early so we went to a cafe across the street. We were not allowed to bring any cameras or telephones which was a shame but here is a link which has some interesting pictures.
The middle picture shows the court room on the 7th floor. We could see through the little windows in the doors that the 9:30 ceremony was still going on but promptly shortly before 11:30 all came out, we went in and it started.
First we were told that we could sit anywhere and a lady from the immigration department explained the procedure to us. I must say that through-out the whole thing everybody at every stage was extremely nice and helpful. She also was quite humorous. Then we were called forward by the last three digits of our alien residents (green) cards, which we had to give up and received a package of information in exchange. A big white envelope with "our number" handwritten on top. James was #55 and I was #70 of 72 people. The benches on the left were marked with numbers (like 34-41, don't really remember) for all 72 people and after a break we sat accordingly. Then a lawyer came around to check that he could pronounce each name correctly.
Finally "all rise", the judge came in. He too was very nice and after some introductory words we were each introduced with our names and country of origin by the lawyer (stand up and sit down again). We stood up and said the Oath of Allegiance all together. Then the judge gave a really nice speech. Wished I could read that somewhere again. And then we said the Pledge of Allegiance facing of course the flag. Helen was sitting with William on the other side of the room. Somebody had given him a little flag and when he could see us he would wave with the flag or his little hands. Helen told us later that he joined in saying the Pledge of Allegiance ... louder and clearer then most of us 72. She said all around him enjoyed that very much.
Now we got in line bench by bench to file past the immigration lady to get our Certificate of Naturalization (citizenship) and get a congratulatory handshake from the Honorable Judge, go past DAR ladies and received some info sheets and a little flag. When I returned to my seat William was waving at me and I was waving back with the flag. The Judge saw it and belted out "Yes, that's the way. Wave that flag!" When all were done the Judge encouraged the visitors to clap celebratory for us and we were free to go.
The immigration lady was at the door and commented how well behaved William had been. The whole ceremony took almost 2 hours. It was very nice and meaningful ceremony.
William was tired but hungry though. We stopped at a Panera Bread on our way home for a late lunch and then Helen and William went to take a nap.
The letter had said to wear good clothes, not jeans or flip-flops. James had decided to wear his Wallace tie. Since we didn't have our cameras at the court house we took a picture of each other in front of the house when we got home.
With Helen and William resting, James and I went to the hospital to see Sarah and Caleb. Sarah was burping him. Look at that hair! And look at this video!
Then Sarah dressed him in a onesie she had made before he was born and which we were not allowed to see, ha-ha.
Now Grandpa got to hold him. But it only took a few moments and we had an explosion. Caleb filled his diaper well. Sarah and Wade did team work to clean him up. The first of many. It was funny.
On the way home we bought a balloon for William since we were told he likes them. Look how we found him ... just starting to wake up from his nap. Even the string from the balloon could hardly wake him up.
But it didn't take long until we played nicely and had a good time. After dinner I baby-sat William so James could take Helen to see Sarah and Caleb.
What an exciting day!!!