Form N-400 is otherwise known as the application for US Naturalization. I have started and stopped filling out form N-400 half a dozen times in the past few years. Most recently, I used the excuse that I couldn’t read all of the dates in my passport. Thus I could not give the relevant dates for when I had left and reentered the country over the necessary time period. The other day I downloaded the form again but now I can’t find my passport.
I have lived in the United States for 25 of my 36 years and I am still not naturalized. I have voted but not for a politician. In high school, I voted in school elections and was elected as Student Council President for my senior year. My main duty was to read daily announcements (soccer scores, late buses, children with lice who needed to report to the nurse immediately) and recite, over the loud speaker, the Pledge of Allegiance.
As a foreigner, I understood the irony of reciting this oath to a bunch of Americans, but I had to do it. I was elected into office, and this was my duty. And getting on the loudspeaker every day was the reason why I wanted to do it in the first place.
I was the president. I would lead the student body in their daily fix of nationalistic pride.
I could just as easily have recited the Lord’s Prayer, which I also knew by heart, though my church attendance was sporadic. Or I could have led them through “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night,” but it never seemed to fit the day’s events. So every day, I pledged allegiance to the flag. Their flag. Amen.
When I call myself a foreigner, I do so with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I am Canadian. Laugh as you will and say that that is the sa...
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...ance, people spend weeks living in cargo bins on large ships. Just for the chance, young men and women from foreign countries put on the uniform of the United States armed forces and fight a war.
Each day Form N-400 sits unfinished, I think of all of these people, living and dying to become Americans. And I know that, even though my passport says I am Canadian, in my heart I am American and all the beauty and the ugliness that name engenders.
Soon I will fill out my Form N-400 and I will submit it to the Department of Naturalization. If I am lucky enough to have my application accepted, I will stand up on the day of my indoctrination and I will lead my fellow new Americans in their prayer for redemption. I will lead them in the Pledge of Allegiance and for those few moments forward we will be one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
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