Tatsumi Kimura Zeider is married to my nephew, Mark. She’s been living in the US for nearly 25 years, although she regularly travels to Japan to visit family and friends there. Sometime around election-time last year, she came to the realization that “HEY! I want to vote, too”. So, she started the process to turn her green card into US citizenship. The culmination of that process was the swearing-in ceremony for 1,518 new US citizens in Pomona, CA on February 22.
It was an inspiring experience to attend the ceremony with Mark, Erin (age 13), and Shaw (age 11), as well as my sisters Lynn (age undisclosed), and Gail (Mark’s mom – age also undisclosed). Tats had a broad grin on her face for the day – one in a sea of faces from everywhere.
We listened to the Judge’s reminisces, and his administration of the citizenship oath. A representative of INS spoke about the naturalization process, and the fact that there have been 15 million naturalized citizens in the past 100 years. Mark calculated that we were witnessing 1/10,000 of that entire number – it seemed unreal to me. I was surprised to hear me that the number of new citizens over this time period was not higher than 15 million. I would have guessed easily twice that number.
A singer with a marvelous voice sang the Star Spangled Banner, we saw a video of President Obama welcoming everyone to citizenship, and saw another video presentation which included some beautiful American scenes, accompanied by a beautiful sentimental song about America. I’m sorry that I can’t remember either the name of the song or the singer.
While waiting for Tats to complete her paperwork, we goofed off. Had our pictures taken with President Obama (nice of him to come in for the ceremony), and also with Ronald Reagan. (still dapper after all these years, although we did have to prop him up a bit).
We also worked on our special U-S-A! cheer for Tats.
It was a great family day.