“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands … ”
After the morning bell rings these are the words recited in unison by schoolchildren throughout the United States. The Pledge of Allegiance can, for many, be routine and monotonous.
But for one Alta resident, saying the simple oath is not a matter of birthright, but of choice.
“I cried the first time I said the Pledge of Allegiance as an American citizen,” said Nora Bradley, who became an American citizen nine years ago during ceremonies at Sacramento’s State Capitol building.
“I still get teary eyed when I hear it and the American anthem. It is so awesome to have the privilege to live here and to call this country my home,” she said.
Bradley, who shares her home with husband Lowell and two daughters, was born in the small town of Jalisco near Mexico City.
“My dad was the first in our family to immigrate to the United States,” she said.
During the Korean War, farmers would recruit workers from Mexico to help harvest their crops. Bradley’s father jumped at the opportunity to come to the states.
“It had always been his dream,” she continued. “My father was a farmer by trade as well as a horse trainer. He sent money to help support us in Mexico and every year he came to visit. “
In 1976 Bradley’s mother died after giving birth to a sixth child. Two weeks later Donaciano Uribe made the trip across the border to get his children.
“When he came for us, it was really odd. I knew he was my Dad, but it wasn’t like we really knew him. By that time he had established permanent residency, a business and had recently married an American.”
Getting across the border was not as easy as the family had hoped.
“We were not brought in legally. My Dad paid the coyote, a guy who meets you at border, to bring us across. That night there was a raid. I got caught with my brother,” recounted Bradley, who was 11 years old at the time. “We were handcuffed, fingerprinted and placed in a holding cell for 24 hours. The experience was terrifying!”
One week later, she recalled, her stepmother suggested to her father that they drive across the border and pick up the children.
“We didn’t speak any English. It was like a whole different world. Shortly after we arrived in L.A, I had a birthday party. I had never had a cake or a present, I got my first Barbie,” said Bradley with a laugh. “I thought, Whoa! This is what happens in America. You get here and they throw you a party! I didn’t even know it was my birthday.”
Shortly afterwards, Bradley spent a week with her grandparents who lived at Lake Tahoe and got a crash course in the English language.
With their stepmother’s help, Bradley and her siblings applied for permanent residency.
After graduation from high school, Bradley married her high school sweetheart, Lowell. He had enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Germany.
“I bought my own ticket, but was traveling on a Mexican passport,” Bradley said. “I didn’t have the freedom to travel like an American because I knew if I got detained I would not be protected by the United States. When we got back (to the U.S.) I filed for citizenship.”
The citizenship process took three years to complete.
In 2000 Nora Bradley joined others who had passed the exam and requirements set by the immigration department and recited the words of her homeland, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
7/2/09 – by Marci Seither, Colfax Record correspondent