Thursday, May 26, 2011


My friend Chris was one of 193 people to take the oath of citizenship yesterday in Salt Lake City.  I was honored to be invited and pleased to attend.  The United States has become Chris's home.  She has put down roots here, become established in home and relationships, given of her time and energy to help others.  The "American" name fits, and I trust she will represent it well.

Naturalization ceremonies are scheduled monthly.  I have attended (I think) five of them over the past eight-ish years.  In many ways, it is pretty much the same every time -- location, schedule, sequence of events, and so forth.  It would be easy, I suppose, to see it as simply routine proceedings, and so I am particularly appreciative of the presiding judge.  Each time, he has communicated great respect for the process and for the people involved.  His demeanor and words remind us that each one of the 193 people is unique, with a unique and worthwhile story.  He honors their histories and their countries of origin.

The judge has a story of his own, too.  He has shared pieces of it -- enough to connect his story to the others, always stopping well short of allowing his own story to take center stage.  I am glad that he focuses on others.  At the same time, I would love to just sit with him awhile and hear his story, too.

Throughout the ceremony, and even before it begins, there is a consistent theme of gratitude for those who have served in the military.  Honor is given, recognizing the significance of their sacrifices for our country.  As I sat and listened to words like "armed forces" and "military" and "those who served," I recognized and honored them collectively.  More than that, though, I thought of individuals -- people like Eric, Perry, Mr. B, Mark, Gene, Dan, Ernie, Bruce, Wil, Ryan, Grandpa J, Jeff, Scott, and many others.  I thought of their stories, their families, their commitment.  We are blessed to have such people among us.

I am grateful.

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