The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

Once in a lifetime event puts citizenship into perspective


The author of this op-ed discusses why Americans need to be more appreciative of their lives.

Video of Men’s Chorus at the Naturalization Ceremony.  Thanks, Mr. Mack.

On Friday, November 1, Malvern’s Men’s Chorus and members of the Diversity Club were able to take part in a Naturalization Ceremony at the West Chester Courthouse.

Naturalizations are ceremonies in which foreigners from a plethora of nations gain their citizenship in America. After attending this ceremony and doing a bit of research on it, I have noted that citizenship is definitely something that most of us take for granted in the United States.

In order to officially be recognized as a citizen of the United States, one must fulfill the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Simple enough, right? Take a look at the requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
  • Be a permanent resident (have a “green card”) for at least 5 years.
  • Show that you have lived for at least 3 months in the state or USCIS district where you apply.
  • Demonstrate continuous residence in the United States for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400.
  • Show that you have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400.
  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
  • Have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
  • Be a person of good moral character.
  • Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution.

Not as easy as you would think.

Becoming an American citizen is literally years in the making. Not only this, but you also have to take a test for the civics portion. Even if you’re “historically challenged”, like me, you can still manage to get a 23/25 on the practice exam. By the time that Mrs. Gordon is done with you, you could pass the test with your eyes closed. But imagine taking a test for another country, in another language, and having to know the country’s history from its beginning to the current day. All the knowledge you’ve accumulated about your home country does not matter anymore, because you have to know everything about your new home.

After reading through the requirements, I gained a lot of respect for the men and women that were naturalized at the ceremony. All of the hard work and dedication they put in finally payed off, and their year long journey came to a close. This would not only be a memorable day for them, but also for me.

During the ceremony, Men’s Chorus was asked to sing patriotic songs, that of which were God Bless America, America, and The Star Spangled Banner. The singing was spectacular, and we were complemented by many of the authority figures in the room. It was awesome to see how the music that Men’s Chorus brought to the citizens would leave a lasting impact on them, for they sang our country’s anthem for the first time as citizens with Malvern Prep’s Men’s Chorus.

The ceremony itself was interesting. Having never seen or been in an official United States governmental ceremony, I found the atmosphere and aura to be intriguing. Everything was official, precise, and respectful to the authorities in the room (the West Chester Judges). Every time someone would carry out an action, they had to ask the Chief Judge to grant them permission first. There was also the bearing of the flag, run by some of the state troopers. The entire event reflected patriotism and respect to this great nation that we are so fortunate to live in.

There are people around the world who would kill to be an American citizen. Think about the people in North Korea, or Iran. They’re constantly under the rule of unjust leaders and corrupt government systems. We are fortunate to live in a country with established legislative, executive, and judicial branches – even though some of us may let politics get in the way, saying “Those darn (insert party here) are ruining this country,” or “I don’t want to live in a country where (person) is (government position)!”  Have fun filling in that Mad Lib.

But even though we say it, no matter how bad you may think someone/some party is screwing up the country, we still have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we still are able to get an education, and we still are in one of the freest countries on Earth. The last thing we should do is take that gift for granted.

Being an American citizen is not just a social status.  Being an American citizen is a privilege.  We are fortunate to live in a country where these foreigners spent years working towards their citizenship.  This ceremony made me rethink how blessed I am to call myself an American, and like these new citizens of the United States, it’s something we all should be thankful for.

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