I first met Gerry right around the time that he was working with a lawyer to obtain resident alien status. I accompanied him to the State court house for the last stages of the Green Card application and was humbled to see so many individuals and families working their way through the grueling process. We also learned, on this trip, a charming bit of legalese that we have incorporated into our vocabulary ever since: "Not as such." You never know when that little phrase might come in handy!
The next step, a few years later, was citizenship, just in time for the year 2000 Presidential Elections. Sam created this Stars & Stripes token for his dad, and we took both boys out of school for the afternoon so that they could share in the experience of Democracy in Action.
The actual ceremony was somewhat anti-climactic, crammed as we were with a hundred or so other people into a bureaucratic space crowded to the walls with under-sized classroom desks (think Bureau of Motor Vehicles). It was a drawn out affair with various delays and one official coffee break when the immigration officer warned us not to make too much noise as there were deportation hearings going on in the next room. Deportation hearings?!?! Whoa, Doggy! There but for the grace of god . . .
Gerry likened the occasion to traffic court (yes, we'd recently been there too; this was Philadelphia, after all!) with the Pledge of Allegiance thrown in for good measure. Afterward we returned to his office, where his coworkers surprised him with a flag - shaped cake, Americana party favors, and City of Brotherly Love souvenirs.
Seriously, it was a day of glory, laud, and honor, and optimism. Remember that old television commercial where the recent European immigrant exclaims: "I love theese country!"?
Gerry's words exactly.