Me and Liberty: A Story of My Naturalization
13 years after voting in my first election in France, I was naturalized during the second term of Mitterand and Reagan.
I would be remiss not to remind my daughter (and, sometimes, my friends) that I earned my right to vote and that resonates with me. But don’t worry. I’m not here to urge you to vote. I’m not even here to discuss the process of getting naturalized (which we all know is fickle, bureaucratic, painful and so on). I just wanted to add some levity:
The process of becoming a US citizen, which I had begun before I was married (or even engaged!), cumulated in my citizenship test. I had gotten off to a rough start with my USCIS officer-she smeared as she pronounced my country of birth. And I’m no good with dates; that knocked out my answers for the first two questions.
I will say that she did not appreciate when I answered that “Alexandre ‘Amilton” was a writer for The Federalist Papers (pronunciation aside-I was right). I can’t remember what was the third question that I had missed but I will maintain that it was nit-picky at best!
And we arrived at the tenth question and I cannot tell you the joy that was watching the blood drain from her face as she read out loud to me, “what country gave America the Statue of Liberty?” I knew the answer and was feeling confident but for fear of being sent away, I said “The French” rather than “we did!”
The privilege is something I hold tightly onto—especially when I have to read about and research dozens of California propositions.