New US citizen Francine Drake (center) stood in front of a “We the People” mural in the Federal Courthouse in Oklahoma City where she took an oath of allegiance to the United States in a special ceremony this summer. VFW Quarter Master Kenny Pike (right) and his daughter Candis Pike pose to congratulate her after the ceremony.
While most people are thinking of gift giving, Francine Drake of Altus was able to receive an important gift earlier this season…the gift of becoming an American and obtaining the citizenship and voting privileges.
Back in October 2011, she had contacted the Great Plains Literacy Council to get assistance on the citizenship materials and process. Then, after study with her literacy volunteer tutor Steve Francis and completing the application and tests, Francine was able to attend her citizenship ceremony on July 27, 2012. On that date, she was able to be sworn in as a US citizen and took an oath at a citizenship ceremony in the Federal Courthouse in Oklahoma City. Her husband Josh, friends, and her tutor Steve Francis attended the ceremony.
“I wanted to be a citizen for a long time, but I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of my Canadian parents,” said Francine, who was born in Canada and lived there until she was 18. “Then one day they questioned why I had not become an ‘American’ daughter, so I felt it would not be abandoning their country to become a part of this country.”
Francine has lived in Altus since 1981. She works as a Financial Service Representative for Red River Federal Credit Union.
One reason she wanted to be a citizen was to be able to vote, and that was also a dream shared for her by her late mother-in-law Mary Drake, who had just been diagnosed with the return of cancer this fall.
Mary was able to go to the polls on November 6 with her and see Francine cast her votes. “That meant so much to both of us,” said Francine. “After that special election, my mother-in-law passed away on November 10, but it made her proud to see me carry out my desire to be able to vote. I did appreciate her encouragement to get my US citizenship.”
Francine has a strong belief that becoming a citizen of the United States is a privilege and not a right. “So many people take for granted the privilege of being a part of this great country. It is important for our five children to see me active in my community and my country.” stated Francine. “Our younger son, who is now 16, is learning that we must as a country and stand up for our rights as citizens. The only way to do this is by exercising our right to vote as our heart takes us. Now as I go forward in this new walk of life, I would like to thank my husband and everyone else who has supported me and made this time in my life so special.”