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.