Linda Meerten is finally going to get a chance to vote. At 48, that may seem somewhat strange, but to this lady who was born in Holland to American citizens, it is a big deal. Though she has lived in the United States since just a few months old, she has never been a citizen. It was just happenstance that she wasn’t an American. It was because her mother was visiting Holland while pregnant and she couldn’t return to the States where she wanted her daughter to be born. So Linda returned to the States and lived here as an American in every respect but just a couple: not being allowed to vote being the biggest.
So she lived her young life in California, then her parents moved to Trail where she has lived since.
Linda has big plans for July 3. About 10 family members were in attendance at the ceremony at Crater Lake. The celebration was truly American; apple pie, hot dogs and good family fun. While it’s been a long time coming, it is just as sweet, as Linda will tell you.
The road has not been easy for this lady. Voting in an election seems second nature to most, but it has never been for Linda. She wants to take part in the great experiment of democracy by being a part of it. But there were some major things that needed to happen before becoming a citizen. First, she had to take a test and to do that, she had to study a list of 100 questions, only 10 of which would appear on the exam. Once that was completed, she had to have a background check certify that she was not a criminal and then pay a fee of $685 to get the ball rolling.
The final step in becoming naturalized was the swearing in ceremony with 13 other applicants. This is the first time a naturalization ceremony has been held at Crater Lake. This ceremony is part of USCIS’ annual celebration of Independence Day. More than 7,800 candidates became citizens at more than 100 special ceremonies across the country and around the world from July 1 to July 5.
Then came the picnic.
Linda Meerten has two brothers, both born in Holland, but they have become naturalized citizens, also a sister who holds dual citizenship.
The only other thing that Linda says she has not been allowed to do is carry a handgun. And for a person who loves to hike in the woods, that can be a big thing.
Aside from all the hoopla, Linda prefers to live a quiet life among the cattle on the ranch in Persist, to sculpt, garden and enjoy the quiet life.