God Bless the U.S.A.!

godblessusamainThe morning I became a U.S. citizen, I stood between a well-groomed Vietnamese woman and a rotund Mexican man. In front of me, an Armenian with a ponytail raised his point-and-shoot camera. Behind me, a Korean young lady in heels texted rapidly into her iPhone.

"Congratulations," announced a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer after the Pledge of Allegiance. "You've made it this far." We were among the 2,176 people of all skin colors, sizes, and ages who raised a right hand to swear loyalty and service to this country at a ceremony in Pomona, Calif., earlier this year.

It felt like a graduation ceremony in that packed stadium of flushed cheeks and enthusiastic whoops. But instead of tossing graduation caps, we waved plastic flags of stars and banners over our heads: After about 10 long years, we'd all finally earned the certificate that grants us the right to proudly declare: "I am an American."

[Read the rest of the article at WorldMag.com.]