If you were ever drafted, the scene might have reminded you of that glorious day when you were finally discharged from military service. As you walked out the door to freedom, there were the guys from the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, vying to sign you up.
This time, the people walking out the door were immigrants sworn in as new American citizens at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Wednesday.
And this time, the people vying to sign them up were registrars from the Democratic and Republican parties.
One of the first people Annabel Gray bumped into after her swearing-in ceremony was a man in an Uncle Sam suit. Flushed with the excitement of her new citizenship, Gray posed with the man to have her picture taken.
"He's the tax man," the former United Kingdom citizen said with a grin. "He's the one I'm going to have to give my money to."
Uncle Sam, who turned out to be John Waterhouse, 68, of Hermosa Beach, quickly explained that he was really there to sign people up for the Democratic Party.
"I've just sworn allegiance to the United States," she said. "It's too soon to swear allegiance to any party."
Most of the approximately 7,000 people who became U.S. citizens here Wednesday seemed to share Gray's sentiments. They smiled politely at the people who handed them party leaflets and kept right on going.
But there were some--dozens, maybe scores--who stopped to read the flyers, listen to some speeches and register.
The Democrats, who admitted that they are facing an uphill battle these days, trotted out a couple of local political heavyweights--Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and City Councilman Richard Alatorre.
"The Democratic Party is the party of opportunity, the party of hope," Molina told the 30 or so people who stopped to listen. "There really has been only one party interested in immigrants," Alatorre said. "That's the Democratic Party."
Afzal Afzalnia, 32, a former resident of Iran who lives in La Verne, said he liked what he heard Wednesday, and what he had heard before.
"I like more the policies of the Democratic Party than the Republicans," he said as Marti Schrank, vice president of the Orange County Democratic Party organization, signed him up.
The Republicans, perhaps feeling a bit more confident, skipped the local politician bit and made do with a papier-mache elephant and a somewhat frayed poster that showed President Bush in a leather flight jacket.
Yanouk Hardung, 48, who had been a French citizen until a few minutes earlier, posed in front of a Republican recruiting banner while her husband, Heimo Hardung, who had become a U.S. citizen earlier, snapped her picture.
She said she was planning to register as a Republican "because I prefer President Bush to the other ones, I think."
"Of course I'm a Republican," Heimo Hardung said as the couple headed off to their home in Beverly Hills. "I'm a capitalist."