Saturday, July 5, 2008

Taking the oath

News from the colonies yesterday...

The 4th of July is a day of parades, cookouts, fireworks, and more. It is also a day that newcomers to the U.S.A. often choose to become citizens. And other things.

(above: Little Julia White Freeman, formerly of China, takes her oath of citizenship at Montecello, Charlottesville, during a July 4th ceremony yesterday.)

(below: In Iraq, approximately 1200 U.S. soldiers choose July 4 to reenlist. The ceremony took place yesterday in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces in Baghdad.


  1. Are children required to take the oath?

  2. She couldn't just say, "My! What a precious little girl!"

    No, that wouldn't be my friend a., would it?


    The answer is "sometimes" and I'm guessing the girl in the picture (judging by her name) is one of those "sometimes."

    Up until very recently, children under 18 were not allowed to become "naturalized" U.S. citizens. They simply had to wait until they were 18 and had their application approved. Even if their parents were citizens. I was in the military with one such lad who had his application approved during basic training and hurried back to NY to get it done over a weekend. He was my bunkmate and we we grew to know each other quite well. I remember how happy he was, having always felt like an "outsider" all through high school. He was English, by the way. And, yes, many foreigners in the U.S. Military. Many Canadians for obvious reasons. I digress.

    But recently the law was changed so that any child who had at least one citizen parent (regular or naturalized) automatically becomes a U.S. citizen upon that child's physical entry into the country--and upon taking the oath of citizenship.

    The citizenship is now automatic, but the oath is still required of children old enough to understand the symbolism of what they are doing.

    From this picture we can assume there is a "gray area" where the child was probably not really required, but chose to do so because she wanted to do so (or to please a proud parent, more likely.)

  3. Quickly, so as to anticipate your next question, here is the wording of the oath, administered by a federal judge: (it is quite old, and some of the language is quite archaic.)

    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.

    May I just as quickly agree with you that I doubt the little girl's ability to truly understand all these words, and that her parents, acting in her minor behalf, decided American citizenship was a good thing for her to have, since it was freely offered to her. Please don't make me be more of an expert on this, or I will begin asking you questions about your own citizenship.

  4. Thank you Max, you always make me feel so welcome.

    Ask away. You won't get very far because I'm not a citizen but merely a subject, something which grates on my nerves just a tiny, tiny bit. The only member of my entire family not to be allowed citizenship.



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