Taking the Oath of Citizenship
With Mark Tewson
To celebrate the American Spirit, NOT would like to share this story of a friend of his and his journey to citizenship.
His name is Mark. Mark grew up in the pastoral English countryside in the small town of Headinshireworthford, where his family engaged in the traditional heath farming. Unfortunately, the times had gotten lean among the heath farmers, with the double whammy of the American Heath bar looking to local suppliers, and the fact that heath suffered by association with the cartoon Heathcliff, which sucked so bad. With his future looking bleak and his options limited, his family urged him to go to America to seek his future.
Saving his money penny by penny from farming, and pimping out sheep to the visiting Scotsmen, he built up the funds necessary for a passage to America. After a year of hard work, he had saved enough to book passage across the Atlantic. The entire family was there on that bittersweet day when Mark boarded the jet, along with hundreds of others just like him, eager for an opportunity in the new world. In his hand, Mark clutched the name of a contact his brother gave him - a man in D.C. who could help him get started. With tears in his eyes, Mark waved good by to his family as the plane moved to the taxiway.
The voyage was difficult. Seven endless hours trapped inside, people crammed in to the left and right of him. The plane was tossed by turbulence, and the cabin was scented with travelers using their barf bags. Trapped, he could not even get a whiff of the fresh sea air as they traveled.
After many hours, the captain came on the PA to announce "If you look off the right side you can see the Statue of Liberty." Immediately people rushed to the rail to get a gimps of this greeter to the new world, paying no heed to those sitting in the window seats. Soon they landed, and queued up to enter the country. Only the customs agent was between him and the land of milk and honey. Luckily Mark's last name was not too difficult, even in New York-ese, and by the fifth try was not mangled or had extra vowels added to it by the officials. Soon he was through and inside the country he had dreamed of.
Mark had committed the name of the contact his brother had given him to memory. When it came time to look for planes to his next stop, however, Mark found that he was not sure what city he was looking for. He scanned the departure boards, vaguely remembering it was a man's name - a former president he thought. Systematically he searched down the alphabetical list, looking for a president's name. Suddenly he spotted it, and noted the gate number. Soon he was on his way. Unfortunately not for Washington as he had been told but to Monroe. In Louisiana.
When he got there, he found a flat land of swamps and manure, just like his brother had described. But the contact he was given was not in the phone book. He could find no record of the man's name. Cursing his brother, Mark knew he had to find a way to make a living. Looking around, he saw miles and miles of farmland, and calling upon his experience back in England, he decided to start off as a farmer. He had read about dirt farmers in American history books, Unfortunately, after weeks of backbreaking work hoeing and tilling, he found that the market for mud pies and cakes was very limited beyond the four to seven year old demographic.
Resilient despite this setback, he found himself working through a series of odd jobs as he tried to find a niche in this new world. He came to find himself working for a Target store, where through determination and hard work he steadily rose through the ranks to management. He met his future wife one day when he was working at the returns desk, and she came in to return some chalk she had bought. She had thought it was hypo-allergenic chalk, until she got to the class she was teaching, and found her hands swelling up in reaction to the lime inside. After the swelling went down, the two courted and eventually married. She helped awaken the desire in him to become a teacher and help mold the mind of the wankers, ahem students.
After years of residence, Mark applied for citizenship in his new country. NOT came along to wish him well and help celebrate the day.
Mark had an advantage in this country, he only had to learn American, being already versed in the language's cousin - English. It made it easier when it came time for Mark to sign in.
And when Mark had to check that they hadn't slipped in any extra vowels into his name on the naturalization certificate. You know how difficult those ethnic names can be sometimes.
And how more American can you get than to have your paperwork completed by a man named Wyatt Earp?
Right hand raised, left hand holding the duck, Mark, and the others intoned the Oath of Allegiance for Naturalized Citizens:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
Not quacked "Amen" at the end.
To get used to the full American experience, Mark and NOT then got to wait on line to get his certificate.
And today, Mark had joined the ranks of Americans.
"Yes, I am a citizen! Now which way to the welfare office? " - Apu Nahasapeemapetilan
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Photos courtesy of Mark and Valerie Tewson
Last Updated March 2008