On 4 July 2017, friends, family, and supporters gathered at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion to congratulate more than 500 people on becoming U.S. citizens. The ceremony was a powerful reminder that people from all over the world still believe that America offers the potential for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was a timely reminder for me. I can’t remember the country ever feeling so divided.
The pavilion area was packed, and I saw that there were already several photographers in place to get great shots of the stage and the new Americans. I decided to maintain my flexibility and train my lens on the periphery. But I should also admit that in this era, I try to avoid getting into packed crowds if it’s not absolutely necessary. The Seattle Police Department obviously viewed the ceremony as a possible target. There was an official, overt security presence, but I also noticed several people in civilian clothes who appeared to be wearing body armor. It was reassuring to see them, but it can leave one hoping that they are indeed with law enforcement.
The presenters, aware that the crowd was baking in the summer sun, kept things moving and concise. Gene Tagaban opened with the story of “One Crazy Raven”. The crowd loved it. One of the presenters then nailed it with the comment of the day (paraphrased): “From now on, no one is more American than you are.”
The highlights of the day, though, were the official swearing in and the naming of the countries where our new fellow citizens were from. Each country was greeted with enthusiastic cheers and applause. According to King5, “The Philippines had the most new U.S. citizens during Tuesday’s ceremony with 40 individuals, followed by India at 38, Vietnam at 32, Mexico at 30 and Canada at 25.”