Friday, April 27, 2018

The Naturalization Ceremony

When we got our ceremony scheduled, the letter arrived with a form to fill out, instructions for the day of the event and a parking pass. Rohit's ceremony was to be at Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest. I didn't know at the time, but it was to be held on Thomas Jefferson's 275th birthday and also the 250th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Those two things, to me, made the date even more special.

Poplar Forest Thomas Jefferson actor, naturalization, immigration
Rohit with Thomas Jefferson
Our instructions advised us to bring certain documents with us, to dress appropriately for the event and they told us to arrive at 8:30 AM. I later learned this was completely unnecessary. Check-in took less than 5 minutes.

On the way into the building for check-in, we were advised that Rohit would need to stay in the room there and all visitors were to go out and roam around the grounds after having the provided breakfast. So Rohit went to the check-in table and the rest of us got a plate and went outside. Rohit came out very shortly after us as the people checking him in told him he did not need to stay in that room after all.

We had a big group coming and not all of us had arrived so I went and picked out seats for us all to sit in and put place holders in all of the chairs we needed. Then we sat there for over an hour before the rest of our party arrived. Rohit went to greet everyone and bring them to our seating area as they trickled in.

As with all U.S. ceremonies, a flag ceremony commenced, this one led by the local American Legion.

A U.S. District court judge opened the ceremony just as a court session would be opened. We were all called to rise for his entrance and he opened the court session. He then made his opening remarks and gave a speech. Other social leaders in the community also made speeches and then they began passing out certificates. In case you missed it in my post 2 weeks ago, here is the video of the judge stating the oath with the new citizens.

After this, the certificates were handed out and I took a small video of when Rohit was called. As I also blogged previously, his certificate was given to someone else by mistake, that all is captured here as well.

Then all of the local Congress and Senate offices handed out letters to the new citizens.

Thomas Jefferson (an actor of course) then made his speech which I personally found very enjoyable to listen to. Here is the full 11 minute video. My apologies that at times it is shaky. I was juggling babies while trying to record.

Then the new citizens were allowed to make their own speeches. Only 4 out of 37 took the time to make a speech. Once that was done, the judge closed the court session and advised us that refreshments were to be provided and tours of the grounds were available to all participants.

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