Saturday, November 8, 2008

Two hearts: a new birth!

What an intriguing title for a runner, isn't it? Indeed, although it may get handy to push the pace, I am not going to announce the transplant of a second heart, at least not literally. But, figuratively speaking, Agnès, the boys and I got a second heart on Friday, when taking the oath and becoming US citizens!
Technically speaking, we do have dual citizenship as both countries recognize the concept. While taking the oath, I was not sure about this aspect of the process as it is clear that, as US citizen, the text makes no concession to allegiance to any other country, state, sovereignty or kingdom. However, and thanks to the infinite content available on the web, I found this interesting document clarifying our position: Citizenship Laws of the World (233 pages as it lists most of the countries in the world with their position on dual citizenship in particular). What a surprise for me to discover so many countries which do not recognize dual citizenship, at least 100 of them! Thomas Friedman wrote The World Is Flat, but the world is still very fragmented and has many intricacies for real global citizens. I knew about the case of China (not recognizing), and Germany which somehow relaxed the rule a few years ago. But I was surprised to find India, Spain, Japan, Singapore, and Belgium for instance in the list of the countries excluding this concept form the constitution. It actually makes a lot of sense to avoid the ambiguity of accepting two (or more...) sovereigns, and the potential associated legal incompatibilities. However, at the age of information age and global trade, reasonable treaties could handle such situations. Furthermore, having to deal with the authority of two people or entities simultaneously is not so infrequent; for instance, children and their parents or, in the corporate world, employees reporting into a matrix organization (e.g. IBM...).

Anyway, I am very glad that my two countries, France and the Unites States of America, are friends enough to recognize this dual citizenship concept, bilaterally. That likely made the oath ceremony of this week less poignant for me since I was not losing my French citizenship, as opposed to what must have happened to many of my new compatriots given the diversity of the audience. Yet, it was quite emotional to go through this new birth, in the words of the master of our ceremony. At least for us, it was a birth on one side, and not a death on the French citizenship side.

And how does all this relate to running, the theme of my blog? Well, it does to some extent since I now have the opportunity to represent both nations, two nations which are very strong in the area of running and ultra running in particular. Ok, granted, I am not in the league of elites which would make a difference by bringing a medal at worldwide events. More modestly for me, it means though that I can now participate to national championships in the US. I may even be able to enter both French-citizen and non-European-citizen lotteries at UTMB, at least until they figure out this loophole...! As you see, not a big deal, citizenship is not much a criteria in our sport of ultra running where the most important is camaraderie, pleasure and exploring our own personal limits and capabilities.

As illustrated by this old flag of 1781 representing the French Alliance, I pledge to be an active part of the multicultural richness of America, while perpetuating the long lasting friendship between France and the USA.
Starting with commemorating a common milestone in our countries' history: November 11 1918, the Armistice marking the end of World War I. The date is a bank holiday in both countries, called Veterans Day in the US (in France we have another day commemorating our veterans and the end of WWII in particular, May 8th). One generation only later, the American soldiers were back to Europe to free Normandy, including the small town of Trévières, which my grandfather was the mayor of (pictured here with American soldiers in August 1944 - See more details in one of my previous posts).
See also the France Will Never Forget website including the following June 2007 video:

So many gave their life to preserve Freedom, I wish the world finds more peaceful ways to do the same and expand this right to all nations. One of the many challenges Barack Obama will have to address in his coming appointment.
[Photo from AP Photo by Rémy de la Mauvinière - Colleville-sur-Mer, 6-Jun-2007]


Ron said...

Congratulations, Jean! Wonderful post.

Paul Charteris said...

Congratulations Jean. Just a couple of days earlier and you would have had the opportunity to participate in an historic election.

Well done on completing the paperwork ultramarathon

Cheers, Paul

Anonymous said...

Félicitations à vous cinq pour cette nouvelle naissance qui, comme le montre bien votre photo, vous enchante!
Mille baisers
Papa et Maman

Anonymous said...

quel évènement...nous sommes très heureux pour vous cinq et vous embrassons fort.
La famille Parent

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

Congratulations, Jean! What a joyous occasion you shared with us!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this and the ceremony with me. The United States is so fortunate with the addition of 5 such extraordinary new citizens.
With gratitude,

Anonymous said...

Felicitations Jean, et merci pour le post. Tres content pour toute la petite famille.

Anonymous said...

Jean and family,
Our country may not be perfect but it is now better because of your addition.

Anonymous said...


Amen to Hannes. This nation, still using its training wheels, is fortunate to call you its own, and Great Gaul its ally.


Suman Ganapathy said...

Dear Fab Pommier Family,

Congratulations! America is lucky to add an incredible treasure like your family!

Wishing you happiness and luck always,
With Love,
Suman. :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the entire Pommier family for your efforts in understanding how to be upstanding citizens in TWO countries! Some do not appreciate the freedom of this country, and you and your lovely family have studied and come to appreciate BOTH France and the United States of America! I am proud to have been a small part of helping the boys learn English and acculturate along the way...and I knew long ago that your sons were bound for greatness! You and Agnes are wonderful, hard-working parents, community members, teachers, leaders, Christians and volunteers, and I am proud to include you among our American brothers and sisters! You are fantastic examples of new citizens!
Much love and thanks, Christy Barrese

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing, when I first heard about this I started to cry, ;-) How exciting!!!! I have another friend from England that also became a citizen last month, (also a runner). Thanks for sharing, you and your family now know more about this country than most of us born here!



Stephane Couleaud said...

Congratulation Jean ! Wonderful post which shows how to adopt a new community without denigrating your roots.
I am very happy for you and your family.
Take care,