This morning I had the privilege of attending a swearing-in ceremony in downtown San Diego.
There were 724 people from 77 countries.
Stand up if you are from Afghanistan and on and on …... Sweden and Syria and the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.
The largest groups represented Iraq and Mexico.
They all took the pledge and became U.S. Citizens.
Then we stood up (hundreds of family members and friends in the balcony) and all the proud new Americans in the Grand Hall below.
With our right hand over our heart.
And even for those of us who have repeated these words over and over since grade school, it meant something, it really meant something.
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God, indivisible, with
liberty and justice for all."
During the ceremony, there was a taped message from President Barack Obama welcoming the new Americans. We all chanted about the importance of registering to vote and then actually voting.
But what touched me the most was the speaker from the Department of Labor who reminded us that the group in front of us was what made America great and he went on to describe his own Thanksgiving tradition that was a mix of turkey and Chinese dumplings that reflect his heritage.
Reminding the crowd (and I am paraphrasing here) that although there is a lot of divisive talk and political speeches regarding immigrants right now, we are a country of immigrants and that is what makes us special and great.
Let us not forget that.