For one more week, Terri Reardon can continue to call herself Canadian. But, after next Wednesday, July 23rd, she will raise her hand to swear her allegiance to her adopted country.
It's been a long journey.
Terri met Sean when he was at Texas Tech, and she was on a work visa as a nurse. When she married him, she had resident status, but not citizenship. Ten years and two young sons later, she decided that it was time she be able to participate fully as a citizen in the country that she now proudly calls home.
Of course, since the government is in charge of processing requests for citizenship, first there was the paperwork. LOTS of paperwork. And photos. And some more paperwork.
And then, lots of waiting.
When you hear on the news reports about the delay in becoming a United States citizen, it can seem pretty far removed from your own life. However, when you're waiting to do it yourself or it's someone close to you, only then does the slow progress of bureaucracy become painfully clear.
Finally there came the studying.
You see, unlike the majority of us who became citizens because our parents were, and their grandparents were, Terri actually had to take a test. About our government. And she had to pass.
So you have to learn about the branches of government. Memorize how many states, senators, representatives, supreme court justices... Trivial information; but, important to know if you're going to sit in front of an examiner and prove that you REALLY want to be an American.
She studied books, videos, the internet. She quizzed her friends. Probably the most amusing moment came about a month ago when Terri's mom and aunt came to visit from Canada and I walked in while they were helping her study. Three Canadians discussing U.S. government and civics, and at a level that most of us would fail miserably since we haven't looked closely at all that information since we were in school.
But she did pass. With flying colors!
We all got excited hoping that maybe her swearing in would be on July 4th. But, that didn't quite happen. It's going to be on July 23rd.
Entirely by coincidence, that's Sean's birthday. I don't really think he's expecting any other gift from her this year, since her present to him will be that she can finally be completely equal as a legal U.S. citizen. No restrictions. No cards to carry. No worries when they travel out of the U.S.
There are plenty of other folks I've known over the years that have gone through this same process. I'm always proud of them, and always pleased that they love their adopted country enough that they want to make it their true home.
So, next Wednesday, you'll understand why I'm hoofing it to San Antonio as soon as we get the paper out on the street. I'll watch Terri stand with all the others that have gone through the arduous process, and I'll watch them raise their hands together as they renounce their birthplaces and embrace their new birthright.
And I'll be so proud of her. And you better believe that in the July 30th paper, we will have a picture of Terri Reardon, American citizen, with her family.
We should all have to work as hard to earn what we so often take for granted.
It’s all just my opinion, but it’s what I wish would happen.