Thursday, April 3, 2014

Oath of Citizenship

One of the two oaths that I have administered that I consider the highlights of my professional life happened on April 9, 2005 at the 152nd Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota held in St Louis Park, Minnesota. 

Andy Rice was born and raised in England.  He came to Minnesota, met and fell in love with Chris and settled in to a successful career.  He became a Mason and rose to the highest position in Minnesota Masonry – Grand Master.  I had had the opportunity to work with Andy on the Board of Directors of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota for several years, and we became good friends. 

Andy told me that his dream was to become an American citizen the day he became Grand Master.  He had completed the process of naturalization, but there was one obstacle:  Normally, the oath of citizenship was given by a Federal District Court Judge.  I had met Federal Judge Donovan Frank when he was a Minnesota District Court judge and we both served on the Conference of Chief Judges.  With Judge Frank’s help, we convinced the Department of Homeland Security that it was just fine for me to administer the oath of citizenship at this important event.

Thus it was that, mere minutes after being installed as Grand Master, Andy Rice raised his right hand and took an oath that has been around since George Washington’s time: 

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

With his son in his Cub Scout uniform standing next to him, Andy pledged allegiance to the flag of his adoptive country for the first time.    After which, a couple hundred small American flags were waived in the audience and a huge cheer went up.  A very proud moment for all present – especially for me, the judge who had the privilege of administering the oath!

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Next Week:  Staff Attorneys