Bittersweet US Naturalization Ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort

4 Jul

Once again, thank goodness for the interweb. Right now I’m watching the naturalization ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort, webcast live.

As I watch, it strikes me that there’s a certain irony to swearing in new citizens in front of Cinderella Castle, the architecture of which draws heavily on Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle. And what sort of beautiful post-modernism is at work if our newest citizens hop on the monorail for Epcot’s World Showcase, and visit the pavilion of their country of origin?

I’ll confess, I’ve never been a big fan of the Fourth of July. I’ve seen some terrible things done in the name of our country, and I am not proud of how our forefathers obtained the land we now live on. And was it perhaps not a coincidence that the skies let loose with a brief, torrential rain after a recorded greeting was played by our current President George Bush? (Maybe the weather gods are as cranky as I am about ScooterGate.)

I almost reached my limit with Lee Greenwood came out to sing “God Bless the USA,” in jeans an a polo shirt no less. (Good Lord man, you couldn’t have put on a suit for such a solemn occasion? Jimmy Rogers would have.) But I’m glad I kept watching, because moments later Meg Crofton announced that our new citizens would participate in a special parade down the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA, a beloved icon perhaps because of its celebration of a place that has never truly existed. And much to my surprise, that’s when I welled up with tears.

Because, despite my anger with my country and its leaders, I still feel lucky to be a US citizen, with my dissent and freedom of expression protected by our First Amendment. And I do know how hard our new citizens have worked to come to our country, and the tremendous obstacles some of them have overcome. I have sat with friends and loved ones when they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to stay in our country, in the homes they had built and loved. I know there are many, many more who’d make great sacrifices to sit with them this morning, becoming new United States citizens. I know there are many who long even for safe haven within our borders, for political asylum. Our country is not perfect, but it is ours, it is my well-loved home, and I welcome our new citizens with my best wishes for a happy Independence Day.

6 Responses to “Bittersweet US Naturalization Ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort”

  1. Eric July 4, 2007 at 1:17 pm #

    I understand what you’re saying, but I think it comes down to perspective. Instead of seeing the castle as a replica of Neuschwanstein, why not view it simply as Cinderella’s Castle? Cinderella made it through some very painful times, to finally reach her castle, a place where she had a chance to make her dreams come true. If that isn’t a fitting metaphor for our newest citizens, I don’t know what is.

    America’s past surely is a complex one, full of both highs and lows. Hopefully we as a country can learn from the lows in order to reach new highs. (Something the current administration doesn’t seem keen to do, sadly. I can’t wait until October ’08 when I will hopefully be able to ‘Barack’ the Vote.)

  2. Kitty-chan July 4, 2007 at 3:19 pm #

    Eric, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!
    I see a certain irony in the fact that a former German citizen might become an American in front of a replica of one of her country’s cherished historical sites, and then perhaps hop on a monorail to Epcot to grab a familiar beverage in the Germany pavilion. And even the original Cinderella fairy tale is a German import, out of the Kinder und Haus Marchen (I of course am particularly fond of the part where the wicked stepsisters cut off pieces of their feet).
    Will the post-modernism never cease?

  3. Thomas July 4, 2007 at 8:16 pm #

    Here’s something to ponder …

    America isn’t her government. America isn’t her leaders. America is her people. People who risked much to come to a new land and make a life for themselves. Just like these new citizens that participated in the ceremony today.

    Or let me put it another way …

    I used to work with a guy who was the complete opposite of where I am politically. I knew he served our country in Vietnam and prior to the 4th, I thanked him for serving and defending our freedom. He was a little shocked, but gratefully said “Thank you.”

    Today is a day we should set aside politics and say to each other, “Wow. I’m pretty lucky to be an American.” Especially those who risked everything to come to this country.

  4. Kitty-chan July 4, 2007 at 9:01 pm #

    Thomas, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    I’m not sure it’s really ever possible to completely put aside politics. Speaking up has implications, but so does staying silent.

    And thank you for sharing the story of thanking your friend who served in Vietnam. There is a red, white, and blue sign on the back of my car that reads “Proud family of a US solider, and against this stupid war.” People often honk and give a thumbs-up, or even pull up alongside the car to wish us well. I’m grateful to be able to say that our family’s soldier is home safe, and that he knows we love him.

    I truly cherish the right to dissent, the right to free speech even on a day of patriotic celebrations.

  5. Thomas July 5, 2007 at 9:48 am #

    I understand your point, I really do. However, if we did less bickering and instead focused on true solutions rather than just pointing out what the other side did wrong, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to the heart of the issue.

    Anyone can point out what the other side is doing wrong. It takes a leader to offer true solutions. Unfortunately, I see no one that is standing up and doing that.

    And since this isn’t a political blog, I’ll bow out and allow the host to have the last word! =)

  6. Kitty-chan July 5, 2007 at 2:27 pm #

    Thomas, I’m not as sure you and I understand each other as you seem to be.

    Celebrating Independence Day is a distinctly political act, given the meaning of the holiday. My expression of irony and bittersweet feelings are no more political than the expressions of others, who may choose to celebrate the occasion with more pure expressions of patriotism and pride.

    And actually I’m not sure this blog is not political. Sure, the main focus is Disney, but when I comment on topics like racial profiling, labor relations, same-sex marriage, and copyright law, I’m visiting territory considered to be more explicitly politically-charged.

    I try my best to keep my professional and personal online lives/personas separate (my blog is not in any affiliated with my employer or other professional endeavors, it’s just my personal creative outlet). So I won’t comment here on the ways I’m involved in trying to find “true solutions” and make a difference in the world. But if you want to know more, drop me an email, I’d be glad to share.

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