Visually, these Veteran’s Day naturalization ceremonies pull on the strings of the highest American ideals. On top of the vision of patriotism, the thickening of the melting pot and the defense of freedom, this one has the eye-catching complement of a soldier — certainly pre-Hurt Locker — on the move in a display at Virginia’s National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Still, the nostalgia must be tempered … knowing how much America excels when it comes to promise. It’s a scene that’s moot, for example, in regard to immigration reform and all who simply aspire to a fair shake, not a hand in the air. In terms of the American proposition, the photo might also be seen in dialogue with Ferguson, citizenship tested daily just by walking down the street.
A more careful reading also means probing beyond the kumbayah of this second photo, the light casting a glow around a woman in a hijab, originally from Pakistan, above all the gauzy flags. Knowing it’s also the first Veteran’s Day since Obama reversed course and re-engaged the fight in Iraq, challenging nuance-averse Americans with a jigsaw puzzle of Middle Eastern fair weather friends and foes, I’m just mindful of the veneer.
(photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images caption: New citizens take the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony November 10, 2014 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia. Service members, military veterans and civilians take part in 40 naturalization ceremonies across the country from November 7 – 14 to honor Veterans Day and become U.S. citizens. caption 2: Madiha Jamil (2nd L) of Ashburn, Virginia, who was originally from Pakistan, participates in a naturalization ceremony November 10, 2014 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.)