Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Giving thanks for 70 New Americans.

It celebration of my favorite holiday... I would like to welcome and give thanks for 70 new Americans who took their oath of citizenship at their naturalization ceremony hosted by the middle school division at The Summit Country Day School. 
Henry at the podium.                                                photo by Rick Norton.
Henry was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the U.S. through his adoption and so was honored to be one of four students asked to read a poem from the Ellis Island Oral History project. 
He was nervous about speaking in front of so many and practiced for weeks ahead of time, scheduling independent time with the school's speech teacher to work on his delivery. All of this extra preparation time and energy showed at the ceremony. All of the students did an outstanding job... their teachers went above and beyond to impress the students on the importance of the occasion.  Henry read his poem with measured reverence and I was moved to tears as I watched those who were becoming citizens listen carefully and then become emotional as Henry and his classmates spoke. 
Head of School Rich Wilson gave the welcoming remarks.... photo by Rick Norton
It was remarkable and lovely to see our school gym turned into a Southern District of Ohio United States Court.  This is the third year that we have hosted a naturalization ceremony at the school and The Summit really does a wonderful job of it. 
New American citizens pledge allegiance for the first time.......photo by Rick Norton
So I was pretty much a train wreck for most of the ceremony. I did what I could not to cry while watching my son read the heartfelt and moving poetry of early American immigrants, and then listening to their sweet voices sing America the Beautiful, which makes me teary under almost any circumstance, but I wasn't as emotionally prepared as I should have been as I watched our newest Americans take the Oath of Allegiance. 
Each one of the new Americans carried with them a complicated story of how they got to that moment... the place in time where they raise their right hand and swear "...to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America. against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law..." 
Seventy outstanding men and women from 32 different countries were making an honorable oath to renounce allegiance to the county of their birth to become Americans...this was a momentous occasion in the truest sense of the word and I was humbled and grateful to be a witness to the occasion. 
And while I tried to stay cool and not embarrass my kids by becoming overly emotional, I also recognize that my three kids unimaginably wouldn't be a part of my family if the United States didn't have faith and belief in welcoming those born outside our borders.

Rosie was a bit amused and entertained by my weepiness, and Jamie did what all teenage boys do when embarrassed by their mother and completely ignored me.  
                                                                                       photo by Rick Norton
  The Honorable Stephanie K. Bowman presided over the proceedings and posed for photos afterwards.
As each candidate became a citizen, they stood and announced their name and birth country. Rosie was happy and excited when a woman stood and introduced herself as being from Ethiopia and looked for her in the crowd after the ceremony.
"Do you remember what she looks like" I asked...
Rosie said emphatically, "I do, she is tall and pretty, with a business suit and glasses" which was very true.
We found her and I introduced myself and then Rosie and we both congratulated her... she was very kind and pleased to meet Rosie and asked her if she could give her a hug.
And so it was that these two amazing Ethiopian born American ladies were able to happily celebrate their U.S. citizenship together in a Southern Ohio District Court gym.  

  Countries Represented at the Naturalization Ceremony
Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jordan, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Western Sahara

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