Friday, February 3, 2012

Reflections on a citizenship ceremony

From Katie Whitchurch, Director of Government Relations:

Earlier this afternoon, I stood in the upper gallery of a courtroom in the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse in downtown Phoenix and watched as 99 people from 37 different countries took the oath of citizenship.

Ninety-nine people in every shape, size, age and nationality, but each story we heard was the same: America was a land of opportunity and freedom. One man had left his birth home due to repression, one woman had come to America simply for the chance at a better life. Each though, spoke with a quavering voice as they expressed their pride in being able to truly call this land home. During the national anthem I watched as a woman in a wheelchair, unable to stand on her own, enlisted the help of fellow participants to stand and hold her hand over her heart. After the President’s message, God Bless the USA played over the loud speakers and a court clerk rushed tissue paper over to a young man in the second row who had been brought to tears.

To the 99 newest citizens of this great country, February 3 will forever be a special day. For those of us blessed enough to already call this nation home, it is a good time to reflect on the fact that, despite our occasional disagreements, this is a place that the world looks upon for leadership, freedom and peace.

If you have never experienced a citizenship ceremony before, I encourage you to do so. The flood of 37 different accents pledging allegiance to the flag, for the first time as citizens, is an incredible and moving experience. 

Participants are led through the oath of citizenship

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