I was touched by columnist Tom Eblen’s account of his recent visit to the citizenship ceremony presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Joe Hood. I am sure Eblen’s account brought back memories to others like me who witnessed their parents or other family members go through this impressive and meaningful ceremony.
For me, it happened on Oct. 1, 1945, in the federal courtroom in Charlotte, N.C. My father had endured 17 days in the Buchenwald concentration camp after Kristallnacht, Nov. 9, 1938. Fortunately, we had been able to immigrate to this country on Feb.22, 1940, on one of the last ships to leave Holland. My father found work in Spartanburg, S.C., as a janitor in a textile mill and as a lay rabbi for the Jewish community. A few years later, we moved to Gastonia, N.C.
I can remember my parents studying hard to prepare for the citizenship test described in Eblen’s article, and their being sworn in with others in the courtroom. After the ceremony, we walked across the street to the Piedmont Diner for a celebratory lunch. Having deprived themselves of all but the basic needs, my parents never went out to eat. However, this occasion was so special that it was marked by the first time our family ate out. I will never forget that day.