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Citizenship worth the wait

March 06, 1998

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

In 1965, Sheran White promised her very British mum she would never give up her British citizenship.

But White's mother recently surprised her daughter with a change of heart on that subject.

"I never would have done it without her blessing," White said, putting the wheels in motion last May to become a United States citizen.

All these years, White said she has pledged allegiance to the U.S. flag and has felt like an American in almost every way.

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But the one big drawback was her inability to vote, White said.

"The first things I did after I was made a citizen was to get a U.S. passport and register to vote," White said.

Born in London, White met a tall, handsome U.S. serviceman named Don while she was working there as a nurse. They got married and moved to America.

For the next 33 years, White lived in the United States under a green card status.

"I was classified a permanent resident, but I still had to have a green card," White said.

Married to an American, she also became the mother of an American citizen, her son Matthew.

The family settled in Hagerstown, where for many years she handled public relations duties at Washington County Hospital.

White, 55, is director of public relations for the Chambersburg and Waynesboro hospitals in Franklin County, Pa.

Don White is a building engineer at the Howard Johnson Plaza.

After her initial application, White reported to the Immigration and Naturalization Service office in Baltimore.

"I had to have a knowledge and understanding of the history, principles and form of government as well as English language ability," White said.

During the interview, she was asked questions and given the opportunity to change her name, if she desired.

On Nov. 18, White and her husband went back to Baltimore for what was supposed to be her final examination before becoming a citizen.

"After that was over, they asked if I wanted to be sworn in that day," White said. "We said OK, even though we didn't even have a camera with us."

That afternoon, White raised her right hand, was given a small U.S. flag and became a citizen.

"When it was over, I felt relief, pride, satisfaction and at the same time, nostalgia," White said.

She said she has fond memories of two homes - America and England.

White said she is grateful to her mother for so many things over the years, including her concern for her daughter's citizenship needs.

"She did it in my best interest, both in 1965 and again in 1997," White said.

As for the rest of the family, now White can boast she has a British twin brother and Robert, who still lives in England, can say his sister is an American.

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