WHITE HOUSE — President Barack Obama marked America’s Independence Day holiday by saluting a group of U.S. military members as they became naturalized American citizens. The president said the ceremony was the perfect way to celebrate the nation’s birthday.
In the East Room, President Obama said America’s Declaration of Independence from Britain, signed July 4, 1776, was “an act of extraordinary audacity.”
“A few dozen delegates in that hall in Philadelphia, daring to defy the mightiest empire in the world, declaring that ‘these united colonies are, and of right, ought to be, free and independent states.’ 236 years later, we marvel at America’s story," said President Obama.
He said that story would not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to America from across the globe.
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“No other nation in the world welcomes so many new arrivals," said Obama. "No other nation constantly renews itself, refreshes itself with the hopes and the drive and the optimism and the dynamism of each new generation of immigrants.”
Mr. Obama welcomed 25 U.S. service members, who became American citizens moments earlier by taking an oath of allegiance from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The new Americans represent 17 countries of origin in Latin America, Asia and Africa. They are serving in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.
Other White House officials were participating in similar ceremonies across the country Wednesday.
Mr. Obama used the occasion at the White House to once again call for comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policy.
And he said naturalization ceremonies show that America is a country that is bound together by fidelity to a set of ideas.
“Thank you, everybody. Have a great Fourth of July. Congratulations to our newest citizens. Yay," said Obama.