Thank you, Chechy. The oath ceremony was solemn. There was a marked difference in the way we were treated at and before the ceremony compared to the way we were treated during the application process. It was as if magical signs had appeared on our foreheads proclaiming that we now had claims to be treated politely. We were then given a pocket copy of the declaration of independence and the constitution.
The ceremony itself was solemn and there were tears on the faces of some as we were informed that we were now in a land where the fundamental organizing principle was individual freedom. I suspect those words had greater meaning for some of my fellow new citizens who were from some of the more darker corners of the world where freedom had more than nominally been robbed. But even for me, the words resonated – since I have always been frustrated by the unfreedoms associated with carrying an Indian passport. The oath was followed by a short taped message from the President of the United States welcoming us new citizens to the country of immigrants.
As for an examination of identity, I will have to leave that discussion for another time. The conversation about identity has been one that has been a background to my life in the last few years. And I have many thoughts ….. Suffice to say, my new identity holds layers of meaning as did my old one. That I am proud of my Indian heritage; and I am proud of being a citizen of a country that declared at its founding that “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” are inalienable rights of every human being. The pursuit of happiness phrasing is what I find most beautiful. Not the achievement of happiness because that might be next to impossible but the pursuit of it. I am glad that this pursuit is guaranteed along with the more obviously fundamental rights of life and liberty