Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I Hearby Declare...

In early January 1957, a little before my 7th birthday, Mom took me downtown to apply for my citizenship. I remember a very patient gentleman carefully explaining to me the concept of citizenship and the obligations attached to it, to which I solemnly agreed.

I had to sign several small photos along the edges. Mom said, "Now Stevie, write neatly, because President Eisenhower is going to see this."

Would my Mom fib to me? No way, so I took it seriously and signed as carefully as my not-quite-seven-year-old motor skills allowed. What she said made sense to me, anyway. I pictured our grandfatherly President going through papers on his desk, coming to my application, smiling, and saying, "of course, Stevie should be a citizen!"

So on that long-ago January day, I took the following oath, linking me to a long line of those who came before me, those who have come since, and those still unborn who will one day adopt our country as their own:

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

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