I am an INS attorney who was present at the swearing-in ceremony on June 23 that was described by Richard L. Brunelle in "Joe Is Now a Citizen, But the Ceremony Was Almost Un-American" {Close to Home, July 5}.

Let me say that I was grateful for the manner in which both the judge and INS staff handled a completely unforeseen circumstance -- namely, the power outage that occurred while the auditorium was filled with more than 500 petitioners and 500 guests. Such a problem could ruin any planned occasion.

However, everything possible was done to ensure that the ceremony proceeded properly and according to schedule. In the semi-darkness, the INS staff remained calm and diligently maintained an atmosphere in which no one panicked, despite the possibility of such a reaction to the given circumstances. Through extra effort the staff completed 95 percent of the official paper work on site that day.

Because of the situation, the judge came immediately from the courthouse a few miles away, arriving well in advance of the scheduled time of the hearing. On the same morning, the same judge and INS staff had conducted an equally large citizenship ceremony at T. C. Williams High School, which graciously provided the necessary facilities for both ceremonies, without incident.

The patience and fortitude of the new citizens and guests were also commendable, a fact this attorney did his best, without a working microphone, to express to those in attendance at the afternoon hearing. I am happy to report that each of the numerous naturalization ceremonies I have attended over the years has been a warm, emotional, appropriately patriotic and manifestly satisfying experience for those present.

It should be noted that until a few years ago, a person applying for naturalization in Northern Virginia had more than a three-year wait for the final hearing. Because of the cooperation of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the waiting period has been reduced to six months by using these mass ceremonies. -- Robert Kim Bingham