Debra J. Saunders

Neumeier noted that while he hadn't agreed with all of Heinlein's ideas, he appreciated how natural citizenship is often undervalued. Neumeier, who grew up in San Anselmo "before George Lucas," said he knows Marin parents who, like the civilian parents of "Troopers'' character Johnny Rico, tried to stop their son from enlisting, as they saw military service as "a little blue-collar, a little-declasse."

They "probably felt that since they made their money, they didn't need to put themselves at risk," said Neumeier.

And, he added, "Are we acting spoiled? And do we not participate because we don't think we have to? Do we think we're too good for that?"

For her part, Jules Roman Tippett has lived here for 25 years, given birth to two American children and built up a Berkeley company that employs 230 workers. While her Polish-born father was proud to become a British citizen, Jules says she procrastinated on becoming a citizen of her new home. Now, she says, a huge weight has been lifted from her.

Jules already has registered to vote, and unlike many Americans, she's excited about it. "Otherwise, you end up with a government that doesn't represent you," she said.

Colin McDonald of Kenwood told a similar story. He was on the 88th floor of the World Trade Center during the first terrorist bombing in 1993 that killed six people. On Sept. 11, 2001, he told me, "We realized how fortunate we had been in '93 and that unless pro-active measures were taken, these events were bound to be repeated but on a more horrific scale."

That realization eventually led McDonald to the Masonic Auditorium Jan. 20 to take his citizenship oath. He, too, had lived in the States since the '70s, married an American and fathered two American kids, one of whom serves in the Navy at Guantanamo Bay.

Neighbors, he said, were "frantic, almost rude" at the notion his son would serve in the military.

But, McDonald noted, military service "is everyone's responsibility, as far as we're concerned."

Debra J. Saunders

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