My friend Alejandro from Miami told me this wonderful story about when he became a U.S. citizen.
Alejandro moved to Florida from Chile a number of years ago, and recently he was eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. When he got to the point of his citizenship test, where you have to be able to name the 13 colonies, the number of voting representatives in the House of Representatives, the name of the U.S. President during World War II, and other facts like that, along with a basic command of English, he passed.
When they told him he had passed, he asked, "May I sing at the ceremony?" Alejandro is a trained classical tenor.
The test administrator wasn't sure what to think. She asked him what he had said, and he repeated his request: "May I sing at my naturalization ceremony?" The administrator, befuddled, excused herself and walked to the office of her supervisor. She and the supervisor returned a few moments later, wanting to make sure they understood right, and they had.
"You want to sing at the ceremony," the supervisor asked, now the second person in the office who was trying to make sense of the unusual request.
"Yes, I am a singer," he replied, "and I would like to sing the national anthem of my new country."
"And you really can sing?"
"Yes," Alejandro answered.
They then asked him to step into another room and requested that Alejandro provide a demonstration of his vocal skills. In full performance volume, Alejandro started belting out the Star-Spangled Banner.
The women were blown away.
Not only did Alejandro sing the Star-Spangled Banner at his own naturalization ceremony, but officials have since asked him to return for two other naturalization ceremonies.
And so Alejandro has become a beautiful part of the first moments of being an American.
Photo by Josh Hallett. Licensed under Creative Commons.