by Doris M. Willoughby
From the Editor: Doris Willoughby is a long-time Federationist and a distinguished teacher and author in the blindness field. During the month when we celebrate the birthdays of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it is fitting for us all to pause for a moment to reflect on the blessings of U.S. citizenship. Here is Doris's brief report:
The National Federation of the Blind has helped two blind people to become citizens of the United States. Abraham Munguia-Cordova came from Mexico to Arizona with his parents when he was about ten years old. His parents did not become citizens, and Abe did not seriously consider going through naturalization himself.
When he came to the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB) for independence training, Abe's teachers mentioned the benefits of becoming a citizen. Soon after graduating from the Center, he decided to go ahead. The NFB of Denver, together with the CCB, stood behind him in his effort.
The procedure for naturalization includes filling out lengthy forms, being fingerprinted, etc. It also includes a personal interview with an official to assess knowledge of U.S. history and government and facility in the English language.
Doris Willoughby, academic skills teacher and learning specialist, offered to help as a volunteer. We obtained the list of 100 questions--the examiner would ask any ten of them, and the candidate would have to answer at least eight correctly. Whenever someone who was already a citizen looked at the list, the comment was the same: "Oh, dear, I should know this, but that list is hard!"
Here are a few of the questions:
1. How many changes or amendments are there to the Constitution? [twenty-six]
2. For how long do we elect each senator? [six years]
3. Who was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence? [Thomas Jefferson]
4. What is the introduction to the Constitution called? [The Preamble]
5. What do the stripes on the flag mean? [They represent the original thirteen states.]
Abe did indeed pass the test (given orally by the official examiner). But unfortunately the date for the swearing-in ceremony was at a most inconvenient time--the beginning of a holiday weekend. Many of his supporters wanted to attend but could not because of travel and other obligations. Relatives were in Arizona and unable to come.
Ruth Stewart, a loyal NFB member, came through. She was there to admire Abe's accomplishment, despite complicated transportation arrangements and personal inconvenience. She reports that the ceremony was most uplifting and impressive.
Kostas Manthos from Greece is also a new citizen. He too is from Arizona and a recent graduate of the CCB. Most of his instruction, as well as the examination and ceremony, took place in Arizona with family and friends; but he tells us that the support and encouragement in Colorado also helped him a great deal.
The NFB of Arizona presented him with a U.S. flag.
The entire Federation family joins in extending hearty congratulations and welcome to these new citizens.