One of America’s newest citizens ready to celebrate her first Independence Day
CAMBRIDGE, Neb. — How many Americans can answers questions about their country's history, knowing that their success determines whether they can be citizens?
How about this one: What is the supreme law of the land? Or this one: Before Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, he was a general. In what war did he serve?
Carol Brougham of Cambridge, one of America's newest citizens, can answer these questions easily: The Constitution, and World War II. And many, many other questions besides.
During her interview with an immigration official on March 27, 2019, Carol correctly answered the questions asked of her. What is the capital of the U.S.? Washington, D.C. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years? Six. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s. Carol answered the Civil War. Other acceptable answers are the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American War. Name at least two national U.S. holidays. Carol answered, "Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving. And I even answered more," she said recently, remembering the momentous day. "He just smiled at me," she giggled.
Carol's husband, Roger, said that as Carol studied before the exam, she asked him some questions from the immigration study guide. He laughed, "I got them wrong."
Carol says the greatest part about being a new citizen is, of course, "I'm proud to be an American." And, she adds, with a smile, "I have a new passport!" And, after traveling to her homeland of the Philippines for her class reunion recently, and then back home to Cambridge, she said, "I proved to myself that it really works. There was no hassle, with my new passport. This is good."
Carol and Roger don't plan any big celebration for America's birthday, Carol's first Fourth of July as a new citizen. Carol says she'll probably work Thursday, and Roger, who is retired, says they may take in an evening fireworks display.
While it won't be on July 4 this year, Carol wants to see the geysers in Yellowstone Park. Roger suggests Mount Rushmore, and the fall colors in the New England states. Outside of the United States, with the ease of her new passport, Carol wants to travel to the Holy Lands.
Her eyes shining, Carol says she wants first to see the Statue of Liberty. Oh, by the way, the answer to the immigration test question about where Lady Liberty is located can be answered correctly several ways: In New York Harbor, on Liberty Island, in New Jersey, near New York City or on the Hudson River.
Carol came to the United States to marry Roger Brougham of Cambridge, Nebraska, on a fiance visa which requires that the marriage take place within 90 days of entrance into the continental United States. After Carol and Roger exchanged wedding vows on Feb. 24, 2013, it wasn't required of Carol that she become a citizen; she had her green card. But becoming a citizen was important to her; she truly wanted to be an American.
Carol's and Roger's story actually started years before.
In 1980, after 22 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Roger retired with the intention of returning to his home state of Wisconsin. On his way, he stopped in Cambridge to see his brothers, Richard and James. "I was divorced at the time, with custody of my five children," Roger explains. "And I realized that Cambridge was a good place to raise children as a single parent." The family bought a house and, over the years, it turned it into a home and the children grew up. Three of them now live in Florida, one lives in Minnesota and one lives near McCook.
Carol and Roger met on the internet, in a chat room on Yahoo in 2006. "I just clicked on his name, and he answered me," Carol explained, excitedly. "Every time I go to the internet, he's there!"
They chatted for three years.
Carol said, "Roger was supposed to apply for me to come to the United States, but it didn't work out — because we had never actually met, in person."
So, another year later, Roger traveled to the Philippines. "Roger came to the Philippines," Carol said. "He had to provide evidence that we had met, and then he could apply for my fiance visa."
Carol said, exasperated, "Oh, so many papers … ," showing with her hands a stack about six inches tall.
After a total of six years of chatting, Carol and Roger were married, at the Christian Church in Indianola. " … in a snow storm," they remember.
Five years later, in 2018, Carol applied for citizenship and waited five months for an interview and exam in Omaha. She passed easily, being required to answer correctly six out of 10 questions (out of the possible 100 questions). She answered the first six questions with flying colors.
"It just happened that the same day, that afternoon there was to be an oath-taking ceremony, so I participated," Carol said. "I was so lucky to be able to take the oath the same day."
Carol says, as her first Fourth of July approaches, "I'm proud to be an American."