This morning I attended a naturalization ceremony for foreign-born residents. The swearing-in took place in the Ohio District Court in downtown Cleveland, and there must have been at least 100 applicants present, most with family or friends. The presiding Magistrate Judge gave the proceedings a real sense of occasion. He began by leading the Pledge of Allegiance, and then talked a little bit about America’s founding documents and earning the right to citizenship, before administering the Oath of Allegiance. He also posed for photographs with each and every new U.S. citizen holding his or her certificate of citizenship. Most of those who were sworn in registered to vote before exiting the building.
I had not known what to expect, having read a report of a recent and pretty dismal naturalization ceremony in Brooklyn, where no friends or relatives were allowed in the room, and the presiding judge encouraged new citizens to take a knee. Fortunately, the ceremony I attended this morning was a joyful one, the courtroom lent the proceedings a formal elegance, and a well-known painting of George Washington at the signing of the Constitution (see above) was projected on the screen behind the bench. I had brought with me an American flag lapel pin for the new United States citizen, and my hanky. It was needed.
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