Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Citizenship Ceremony

Two of my interpreters are now American citizens. I’ve never been to a citizenship ceremony, so I had to go.

Fatima, side-kicking interpreter, had to pass a test before she took the oath. The test shouldn’t be a challenge to any high school graduate, but I doubt most Americans can find Iraq on a map. She had some trouble understanding the Judicial branch, so I directed her to the world famous “How a Bill Becomes a Law” video, presented by YouTube. She didn’t get it. Anyway, she passed the test.

There were over 250 soldiers there to swear the citizenship oath. A big part of the oath is about ‘picking up arms’ to defend America. That part was kind of ‘Well…duh.” Non-American citizens who join the Army have their citizenship procedure accelerated; it only takes them a year.

After the oath and the ever motivational Lee Greenwood “Proud to be an American” video, each new American received a certificate. That part felt like a high school graduation, everyone had their name read off. I felt sorry for the MC, she had to pronounce names like “Juris Ghorstrofayabrokoffdais” and “Nak Clikclikbazoontiki.” God Bless America!

The ceremony was in the Al Faw palace. Saddam built the palace to celebrate his victory over Iran. The Iranians built a suicide bombing training course to celebrate their victory over Saddam. The palace looks impressive, check out the Mother of all Chandeliers:

But here’s the fun part. The chandeliers are all made of plastic. Dead serious. I spelunked around some of Saddam’s palaces we’d bombed, and more than one chandelier fell from the ceiling. Each of those little crystals is made of plastic, not crystal like you’d think.

The marble is all imported from Italy, and hideously expensive. Saddam dropped the big dinar on the marble but he couldn’t spend the cash for glass chandeliers? Cheap bastard! He also drove Rolls Royce cars with 8 track players and pleather seat covers.

It felt great to see so many people who want to be Americans, and will put their lives in danger to get their citizenship. Fatima had to give up her home country passport, and she can’t go back because they’d throw her in jail, possibly cut her head off. They’re crazy like that.

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