Citizenship. The Swearing In Ceremony. The Oath. It really is something everyone should see. Especially those of us who by the fate of birth found ourself a citizen of the United States. It is a stark and humbling reminder of the lengths people will go to earn what is for many of us a “birth right”. Above all, it is a room full of people making a choice – a very public and life altering choice. A choice that is the capstone of an entire life journey full of choices. The stories in that room had to be amazing. You could literally see it on the faces – pride, relief, joy, accomplishment. It was all there.
Something that is taken for granted by so many is so coveted and treasured by others. It is the stuff of timeless tales. It is also a much-needed reminder of the gift I was given by my birth, as well as the choices I made every single time I raised my hand to take an oath to serve. Maybe it is the wisdom that comes with age, but it seems to mean more now. I am grateful for the reminder to not take things for granted…especially this time of year.
Several generations back some ancestors of mine made a choice – a hard and gut wrenching choice to quite literally bet it all. They left behind all that was known and jump into the abyss of uncertainty. But that choice was made based on the promise of what could be, and a core belief that they would make it. They chose a course…they did not rely on a course that was chosen for them.
I was extremely fortunate to witness some great friends taking their oath of citizenship recently, and I am better for it. I was reminded of the great fortune to be born a citizen of this country, to have the opportunities afforded me by being a citizen, and above all the freedom to choose. Those people taking the oath chose to be there. They loved their choice. They wanted to be there. The chance to make choices is arguably one of the greatest gifts granted by freedom. Making choices, owning those choices, and just having the chance to choose – amazing gifts that are all too often taken for granted – and all too often squandered.