Naturalization Ceremony in Glacier National Park

Bernadette Binoya Fuhst of the Philippines throws her head back joyfully after receiving a small American Flag as well as her American Citizenship certificate. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Bernadette Binoya Fuhst of the Philippines throws her head back joyfully after receiving a small American Flag as well as her American Citizenship certificate.
(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Today I got to witness a Naturalization Ceremony on the shores of Lake MacDonald in Glacier National Park. The ceremony is one of more than 100 ceremonies taking place in 2016 for the National Park Service's 100th anniversary.

Today 11 new citizens took the Naturalization Oath and celebrated the conclusion of their journey to officially become Americans. The oath reads:

I do hereby declare, on oath, or hereby affirm that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;
that I will support and defend the constitution and the laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;
that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States, when required by the law;
that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction, when required by the law;
and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion: so help me God.
Sandrine Tochem of Chad with her daughters Eve, 5, and Alexa, 2, share a moment together before the start of the Naturalization Ceremony in Glacier National Park on Wednesday, September 21. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Sandrine Tochem of Chad with her daughters Eve, 5, and Alexa, 2, share a moment together before the start of the Naturalization Ceremony in Glacier National Park on Wednesday, September 21.
(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

From left, Date-Ellyn Dalles Randle and Lana Lee Schock, both of Canada stand for the Advance of the Colors by the Kalispell Civil Air Patrol during the Naturalization Ceremony in Glacier National Park on Wednesday, September 21. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

From left, Date-Ellyn Dalles Randle and Lana Lee Schock, both of Canada stand for the Advance of the Colors by the Kalispell Civil Air Patrol during the Naturalization Ceremony in Glacier National Park on Wednesday, September 21.
(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Judge Dana L. Christensen stands with hand over heart for the National Anthem preformed by Rob Quist at the Naturalization Ceremony in Glacier National Park on Wednesday, September 21. In his remarks Christensen related his own families immigrant experiences and his Danish heritage. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Judge Dana L. Christensen stands with hand over heart for the National Anthem preformed by Rob Quist at the Naturalization Ceremony in Glacier National Park on Wednesday, September 21. In his remarks Christensen related his own families immigrant experiences and his Danish heritage.
(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Sandrine Tochem of Chad gives the Naturalization Oath as she hold her two-year-old daughter Alexa at the Naturalization Ceremony in Glacier National Park on Wednesday, September 21. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Sandrine Tochem of Chad gives the Naturalization Oath as she hold her two-year-old daughter Alexa at the Naturalization Ceremony in Glacier National Park on Wednesday, September 21.
(Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

Watching these people from Belarus, Canada, Chad, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines and Ukraine take the oath I couldn't help but think of my father.

My father was born in Canada in 1945. When he was a young man, he decided to join the United States Marine Corps and served one tour of duty in the Vietnam War between 1965-66. I don't know all the rules, but apparently, after military service of this nature, one is eligible for American citizenship. But for some reason, and I never asked, he didn't apply until I was in high school.

This was kind of fun for me because I was studying American History and Dad was learning the materials from the Daughters of the American Revolution preparing for the test. I remember studying together and being so excited to see how he would do on the test. And yes, I really was that much a geek...I liked tests...gasp. Anyways. Test day came, and we all went with him. He was called in for the exam and we waved goodbye and waited. And waited. I don't remember how long we were there, but it seemed to take forever. Finally he came out to tell us he had passed. But that wasn't enough for me, I wanted to know his score.

He didn't have one. The person administering my Dad's test was a former Army sergeant. He took one look at my Dad's military service record, said: "I see you served a tour in Vietnam." My father told him that was correct and the Army Sgt. closed Dad's file, closed out the test, extended his hand to my father and said, "Welcome to the United States of America." The two of them then spent the next hours swapping stories. At the time, I hated this, I wanted to know how Dad did after all our studying together. As an adult, I actually prefer the way this really went down.

My father kept three framed documents above his dresser in his room: his honorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps, his marriage certificate to my mother, and his American Citizenship.

Truly, my father was a man who led by example. I was an am so proud of him.

Semper Fi Dad! I miss you.