Naturalization Ceremony was beautiful but sobering

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America on Main Street was a complete success and if this was any indication of its long held Friendship Festival, the city is well on its way to a long-lasting El Cajon tradition. City staff, the Recreation Department and all of the volunteers out did themselves in pulling this festival of nations together and it truly represented the diverse culture of East County and all of its surrounding neighbors.

America on Main Street was a complete success and if this was any indication of its long held Friendship Festival, the city is well on its way to a long-lasting El Cajon tradition. City staff, the Recreation Department and all of the volunteers out did themselves in pulling this festival of nations together and it truly represented the diverse culture of East County and all of its surrounding neighbors.

People from all over the county attended and participated in the event and I was able to catch up with some old friends and meet some new ones. Having my own squadron of writers and photographers with me, at one point they deserted me because everywhere I went, there was someone to talk with. And what I heard overall was everyone was having a blast.

It was great to see all the entertainment that ranged from folkloric dances, big bands and family ensembles. And it was really wonderful seeing all of them having a good time. Teaming up with the Red Bull Fiesta de Futbol was genius and entertaining as Americans are not used to playing street soccer and the soccer balls were flying all over the place. In peoples laps, on tops of buildings and bouncing off everything surrounding the small courts where the small teams played each other all day long. Many of us spectators were playing dodge ball at the same time. But no one was complaining, it was all in great fun.

There was so much going on that it was difficult to keep up with and in many cases you had to pick and choose just what you wanted to see. But there were some wonderful moments during the day that I will remember the most.

It was my first time in witnessing a Naturalization Ceremony and for me, was worth the entire trip. I do have to say, although everyone had wonderful words to say about the significance of taking the Oath of Allegiance and becoming an American citizen, it was Councilmember Star Bales that moved the hearts and souls of those waiting to take that pledge. An Iraqi refugee, you saw the eyes of the 50 people from 14 countries light up when she began to speak about the possibilities that awaited them. And it was obvious that they understood that she was one of them that had created the American Dream for her own. Immediately following the oath, she could not help but run over and begin congratulating all of them with hugs and great wishes for the future.

It was a moving experience for me, but it also got me thinking about the things that we take for granted and the many things that we assume about our immigrant population. On Capital Hill, our representatives cannot fathom the idea of really coming up with immigration reform. You always hear that everyone has to follow the path to become a citizen. From what I have learned, war refugees (as it should be), and the very wealthy are the only immigrants that have a clear path for American citizenship. And even then, I still hear horror stories of families that are broken up. Parents that cannot be with their children and those hopelessly lost in a broken system that has no foreseeable future of getting fixed.

I also prayed that those that took this oath on this day did not realize the sad example that Americans provided them on primary election day. It always irritates me when I speak to people that are not registered to vote, but for less than 20 percent of San Diego County registered voters to show up at the polls is a disgrace. And the numbers were even lower nationwide. They blame it on voter fatigue. And I understand, because just as many others, I am very tired of politics as usual. But that is just a sad excuse. Nothing will change unless you get involved and let your voice be heard.

When people start complaining to me about politics, my first question will be, “Did you vote?”

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