Daye-Llyn Dalles Randle spent nearly 70 proud years believing he was a citizen of the United States.
Until the day he learned he wasn’t.
Last summer, in the midst of a genealogy project to research his family’s complex history, Randall learned that he was a Canadian citizen, despite having served his country — or the country that he’d always believed was his — in the Vietnam War, as a member of the 588th Engineer Battalion in the province of Tay Ninh.
Upon his return, he raised three daughters in Montana with his wife, Kathe, and spent the lion’s share of a long career working as a maintenance technician specializing in generator sets. He lived in Texas and Oregon before settling in Montana, wanting to raise his children in the mountains, and near the discipline-rich farming community that he’d grown up on in the Peace River country of Alberta, Canada.
“I’d always known that I was born in Canada, but what I didn’t realize until last summer was that my mother was also born there,” he said. “I’d spent my entire life believing that I had dual citizenship, so all of a sudden my whole world exploded. I knew I had to fix this.”
And fix it he did.
On Sept. 21, he celebrated his first day as a true American, earning his citizenship at a naturalization ceremony in Glacier National Park along with 10 other new Americans, and putting to rest any question of his allegiance, even though he has served his country overseas and voted in every national election.
The confusion began last year when Randle was attempting to track down his mother’s birth certificate so he could flesh out his obscure family history in hopes of preserving the family tree for his daughters.
On Randle’s birth certificate, his mother’s place of birth read Spokane, Washington, but when he tried to track down the document there, he was told it didn’t exist.
After talking to his cousins, he learned that his uncle, Everett Maurice, had been born in Lacombe, Alberta, and sure enough, after calling the Department of Vital Statistics, he found out that his mother had been born there, too.
“It was earth shattering,” he said. “All of a sudden, one of my deepest beliefs, that I was an American citizen, was turned upside down. I have always considered myself an American, so all I’m doing here is correcting the record.”
Holding an American flag on the shore of Lake McDonald with the mountainous backdrop dappled in autumn sunlight, Randle admitted it was a pretty decent setting for setting records straight.
“It’s been quite the circus, but I didn’t want there to be any question about my citizenship,” he said. “And that’s how I ended up here today in Glacier National Park. Not a bad way to become an American citizen.”