Nola Nerd Couple did the traditional Fourth of July cookout with family on July 2nd or the day that John Adams thought all Americans would celebrate American Independence. This left us with the Fourth being open and trying to think of something we could do besides having another cookout. Last year was hard to top since we visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. That is a bucket-list museum that all Americans should try to visit if able. How do you top something that is bucket-list worth? It would take another bucket-list occasion to do this.
Then we saw that the National World War II Museum would be hosting a Naturalization Ceremony on the Fourth of July.
We both taught Civics in the past, so going to this ceremony didn’t come with much discussion. We both knew this was the thing to do to celebrate America’s Independence.
We arrived early and had breakfast at Jeri Nims Soda Shop which is part of the World War II museum. We then headed over to the US Freedom Pavilion: the Boeing Center. Crowds were starting to gather. There were only looks of happiness on everyone’s face.
The ceremony took about an hour. There were over 50 people who have worked hard to become citizens of the United States of America. The colors were presented by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Honor Guard. Eureka Arties, Supervisory Immigration Services Officer, sang the Star Spangled Banner in a beautiful a Cappella rendition. She then called out each country that our new to be citizens were from. They covered five countries and, if memory serves, 27 countries ranging from Mexico to the Netherlands to Jordon to China.
Then the moment every one of those deserving Americans were waiting for happened: they took the Oath of Allegiance. They became citizens of the United States of America.
The Honorable Daniel E. Knowles provided the keynote remarks. He quoted Patton in saying that America loves a winner and all of our new citizens were winners. Whatever reason they came to America, the chose to contribute to our great nation by becoming citizens. He related the story of a Canadian who served in our Armed Forces and then became a citizen. In the story, the young man fully realized how great of an honor this was when the stoic old man sitting next to him jumped to his feet at after the Oath and hugged him with a face full of tears. This man also had the honor of watching his mother become a citizen. Judge Knowles reminded everyone that America always has a place for people who want to become Americans.
Each year about 8000 non-citizens joins the U.S. military. To do so, they must have a Green Card or be a permanent resident. Two of our brave service men became citizens during this ceremony. Both were asked to lead the hall, which by this point was standing room only, in saying the Pledge of Allegiance. We both became teary-eyed at this moment.
A video message from President Obama welcomed our new citizens. Then another joyous moment occurred when they were presented with their certificates. Unlike me, these people were not blessed with being a citizen because of the geographical location of my parents. These people may or may not have chosen to come here for some were from war-torn places. However, they all chose to become citizens. They filled out the forms, underwent the interview, and took the test. They worked hard to become American citizens and as Judge Knowles remarked, America is better for it.
To make the moment even more special, it took place in a museum that honors men and women who fought to keep America a country that people want to come to and spend the rest of their days in. The National World War II Museum keeps alive the memory of our brave soldiers. We are a country of immigrants who hold freedoms and rights dear because of the men and women who put their lives on the line during World War II and all other wars we have fought in. Our new citizens will remember the day they became Americans because it was the day that America herself became free. They will cherish that day because they were sworn in a place that ensured that freedom.