I've been waiting quite a while to do this. I was eligible to apply almost a year ago, but it's awfully expensive. I finally started the process early this year, and it culminated today when I took the oath of naturalization along with over 4,000 of my closest friends at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The ceremony was to start at 9:00, but applicants were required to arrive at 8:00. We went in around 7:30. They separated the applicants and their guests right away, and I went to the back of a long line that snaked around the large lobby area. There were people selling certificate holders, and passing out passport applications along the way.
The line moved fast, and I signed in (at tables along the wall on the left), gave up my green card, and went to sit in a large block of folding chairs in the centre of the room by 8:00. There was a movie screen in front on the left, and a dais front and centre.
(On the right-hand side of the photo, you can see the strip of yellow caution tape separating the applicants from the observers.)
While we were waiting, we were given voter registration forms to complete if we wished. We were cautioned not to sign them, as we were not yet citizens.
At exactly 9:00 a.m., the judge came out, and we repeated the oath after him. A really macho-looking guy in front of me was wiping his eyes, which made me choke up a bit. The judge then gave a a short speech about how all Americans, except the Native Americans, are immigrants. I found it very moving, and very timely.
Then they showed a welcome video by Barack Obama, followed by a music video of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA".
There was a whole throng of people who were late, so we had to wait while they did their oath. Then all the guests had to leave the room before they would start distributing the certificates. It was raining a bit outside, so Tod texted me that he, his mother and his cousin would wait for me at the restaurant in L.A. Live that we'd decided on for lunch. It was only a little past 9:30 by this time.
While we waited, they collected our completed voter registration forms (which we were now able to sign).
The new citizens were released row by row to go back over to the tables and collect their certificates of citizenship. That took a while, but they were organized enough to release us in the order in which we'd arrived. I was out of there before 10:30 and joined my family at The Farm of Beverly Hills.
A great morning, but exhausting (we were up at 5 a.m. and left the house at 6:15). I came home and had a nap!