Saturday, July 19, 2008

Proudly American

photos © Mark M. Hancock /

A legal immigrant holds a U.S. flag as she becomes an American citizen at the Department of Homeland Security in Dallas on Friday, July 18, 2008.

Fayrouz Hancock becomes an American citizen at the Department of Homeland Security in Dallas on Friday, July 18, 2008.

Legal immigrants take the Oath of Allegiance to become American citizen at the Department of Homeland Security.

Fayrouz Hancock takes the Oath of Allegiance. Fayrouz was previously a citizen of Iraq and Australia.

For the record, ICE allows family members to photograph the Oath and make photos next to the cardboard cutout. They pull black curtains over everything else during the ceremony. I've shot other citizenship ceremonies, but those were always in public venues.

As y'all can tell, Fayrouz and I had a good day. It's unfortunate we don't see more images of this important moment in many Americans' lives. This is the point where the "pursuit of happiness" begins.

After seven long years of struggles and setbacks, Fay is now a U.S. citizen with all the rights and responsibilities afforded to such.

After we moved back to Dallas, the government finally decided she was a good girl long enough and granted her a citizenship interview. She's studied the citizenship manual since we lived in Beaumont and knows more information about the United States than many native-born folks know (name the specific Constitutional Amendments - by number - that address voting rights).

We honestly expected today's appointment to lead to another appointment, etc. But they surprised us and asked if she wanted to take the Oath of Allegiance today. Four hours later, she became a part of the fabric of America.

Because of my family history and service to the nation, I take citizenship very seriously. I have internalized it. I am a Patriot.

It's strange, but I can't sing the words to the "Star Spangled Banner" because my voice will crack. I can't listen to "God Bless The U.S.A." by Lee Greenwood without my eyes filling with tears.

They played Greenwood's song during today's ceremony. Both Fay and I were fighting a losing battle with big tears.

Welcome home Fayrouz. I couldn't be more proud of you.

Enough for now,


Dawn J. Sagert said...

Congratulations to you both!

Mark M. Hancock said...

Thank you. :-)

John MacDonald said...

This is a happy day. Congratualtions for a special moment in your lives.

Unknown said...

Congratulations! We miss you guys here in Beaumont. Best of luck in future endeavors. Dana

Mark M. Hancock said...

Thanks Dana,
We miss Beaumont. It was fun and a nice break from the speed of Dallas. Fay and I plan to visit each spring.
I'll also visit y'all if it gets unusually windy and wet for a few days. :-)

Jim Scolman said...

Hi Mark, congratulations to all. I covered the 25th Naturalization Ceremony here in Seattle on July 4, it was a moving experience. I posted a shot on my blog, scroll down to "A New Citizen" to see the shot. I enjoy your work and articles. Thanks, Jim.

Marie said...

I'm actually tearing up seeing Fayrouz take the oath.
Wow. What a special day for y'all. I'll be talking at you soon because I have been thinking about you.

Mark M. Hancock said...

Thanks y'all.
Jim, it looks like a fun ceremony.
Marie, I'll drop a note to you.

Fayrouz said...

Thank you everyone for your kind wishes.