I just got my renewed passport in the mail. It was a quick turnaround taking just 2 weeks without paying extra for speed. I mailed it on October 16, which turned out to be the last day of the federal government shutdown. Maybe mailing it on that day sounds like an act of faith, but I brimmed with confidence in the State Department and the US Postal Service when I dropped my old passport and my check in the mail. I have had a passport since I was 16 years old and I retain a certain nostalgic attachment to this travel document and the inscription inside: “The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.”
When I renewed my passport in the past they returned my old passport with a hole drilled through it like a used deck of cards from a casino. Alas, this time I did not get my retired passport back. Gone forever are the stickers from The Kingdom of Cambodia and 10 years of country stamps (when I could get customs to stamp it).
My new passport is covered in stiffer navy blue paper and every page is designed to inspire, from the Liberty Bell and quote from George Washington, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair,” to a space vehicle on the back inside cover. Does this mean that I will need my passport if I go on a voyage to the moon?
There is new electronic technology incorporated so there is a new admonition to not bend or “expose to extreme temperatures,” so if I go to Antarctica I will need to insulate my passport! There is also a new page of important website addresses that made me look for the ubiquitous, “Like us on Facebook.” I guess the State Department has not stooped to that yet.
My overall impression is a document that is no longer as serious as dignified as passports of yore. In fact, it rivals the US Park Service “passport” for information and childlike inspiration with drawings of eagles, buffalo, cowboys and longhorns. However, it acts as the passport to enter foreign countries and legally return home and that is serious and inspiring.
UPDATE: I received my old passport in the mail on November 4. Not sure why it was sent separately, just glad to be reunited.