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¿Proud To Be An American?

by Amanda La Gringa
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La Roja’s Adventure At A Naturalization Ceremony.

Last week, I attended a US Naturalization Ceremony in Oakland Park, Florida to watch a Latino friend of mine take the oath and become a citizen. I must say, watching 175 people from 41 different countries pledge allegiance to the United States was pretty cool and, for most of the ceremony, I was really feeling the patriotic vibe and happy to be there! But then, things got really uncomfortable, really fast…

So, let me just set the scene for you: It’s the close of the ceremony, all of the countries of origins recognized, Pledge of Allegiance said, National Anthem sung, and Naturalization Oath declared. It should be over, right? No! The newly sworn-in citizens are then instructed to get out their mini-flags and sing along to “God Bless the USA”  aka “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood via the lyrics on the screen. I chuckle, that’s an interesting choice, but hey, it’s a really well-known song and it fits the fuzzy-warm patriotic feeling we had going. I decide to turn my iPhone from camera to video so I could share this moment with my friend who was in the crowd (video posted below), but suddenly, I get this weird feeling and I swear, the vibe in the room went from excited to uncomfortable. The Immigration Officer who, minutes earlier, patrolled the aisles doing his official duty of making sure everyone was swearing-in according to the Law, was now barking orders at the new citizens to wave their flags higher, sing louder, and during the appropriate lyric-cue….stand up.

To be clear, I’m very proud of my country and I have no political motive behind this post. Saying that, I would like to know:

  • Is it just me…or does this seem inappropriate?
  • I learned this is standard across the country….so, since when is an official government ceremony the place for a commercially-created patriotic song?
  • These people have been citizens for approximately 2 minutes, is this too soon to expect them to be “Proud to Be An American” and then “prove it” by singing the loudest and waving their flag the highest?

Check out the video I took and let me know your thoughts!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moi-U2zU4Ns]

*Disclaimer: This is not a post about immigration or our political views.

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3 comments

Alex Zevallos January 30, 2012 - 7:26 pm

OMG that’s too funny! Most of these people have gone through hell just to learn English and memorize 100 historical facts. They couldn’t sing a tune in English if you paid them. I’m not sure what I would have done if they had made me sing when I became a citizen. I don’t even like going to karaoke bars cuz I hate to sing in public. They must be trying to really commercialize the whole process because they wouldn’t even allow cel phones or cameras just 5 years ago. God Bless America, meng!

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Tracy López January 31, 2012 - 11:18 am

This didn’t happen at my husband’s naturalization ceremony and I find it a little creepy to be honest. Wouldn’t it be their right as American citizens to wave their flags as they wish, or not, to sing loudly, quietly or not at all? Hmmm.

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La Rubia January 31, 2012 - 12:36 pm

Tracy, Yes! I completely agree! I am pretty sure there is this little thing called the 1st Amendment that gives them the right to choose whether or not they sing a commercial song and wave those little flags, etc.! This struck me as bizarre and almost shocking.

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