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:
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.