Yesterday I met with my immigration lawyer and started the filing process for naturalization. I got a form to fill out, plus a list of the 100 questions I'm most likely to be asked during the interview.
The questions are pretty easy on the whole: Who was the first president, how many stripes on the flag, what were the first 13 colonies, etc etc. My lawyer says it's good to study anyway; the people who do poorly on the interview are those at the extreme ends of the spectrum (the quasi-literate who have trouble understanding the questions, and the Ph.D. holders who assume they know this stuff because they read the NYT every day). I'm neither one or t'other, but I haven't failed a test in my life and I don't intend to start now.
Of course, because I'm a smart-arse, my gut instinct is not to give the pat answer, but to give the accurate answer:
Q: Who is the vice-president?
A: A Dick
Q: Who is the president?
A: Concidentally, also a dick.
Q: Whose rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
A: Rich white guys.
And then I looked at an older citizenship prep book I picked up at Dollar-a-Pound a while ago, which had questions like, "What is the 20th Amendment?" and "Who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance?" (I'm not going to tell you, because if you're a citizen, you already know the answers. Right??)
But becoming a citizen isn't just about knowing a bunch of stuffy historial and political facts. It's about gaining a sense of belonging to something bigger than oneself. It's about uniting with everything this great country stands for. And nothing, I think, sums up the total awesomeness of what that means better than Dennis Madalone's America, We Stand As One. If you're not in tears by the end of this video, you have no soul.