The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services holds frequent swear in ceremonies for new citizens. But On the Bill of Rights Day, the Naturalization ceremony at the National Archive headquarters in Washington DC was a special one.
Two hundred fifteen years ago this month in the United States, the Bill of Rights became law. The document incorporates the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. They were written to guarantee Americans' basic civil liberties and human rights, including freedom of speech, press and religion.
To commemorate the event, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services swore in 35 immigrants as new citizens at the National Archives headquarters in Washington DC.
The building is the permanent home of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights, collectively-known as the Charters of Freedom.
The naturalization ceremony took place in the Archives' famous Rotunda, an imposing domed hall that showcases the Charters of Freedom. The ceremony was a somber one as Federal judge Thomas F. Hogan swore in the new citizens.
"...And that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God…
…Congratulations ladies and gentlemen you have now become citizens of the United State of America." (applause)
The atmosphere then turned festive and casual. The new citizens mingled with family and friends. Happiness and exhilaration lingered on their faces. They were proudly displaying their naturalization certificates.
A man from Cameroon said he had waited nine years for this moment. But, he felt it was worth it. "Absolutely! I think it was wonderful, terrific and exhilarating," he exclaimed. "It gave me an opportunity I've been dreaming all my life. I think this is the culmination of my dream."
Others had different motives for becoming Americans. One of them was a young Pakistani woman. "Now, I have to live here because my Mom and Dad live here. So, I have no choice," she said.
A man from the Netherlands did it for his kids. "My two children were born here, they have an American passport and I wanted to make sure that I have the same passport as they do, he added. "
But the most moving of all was the reaction of Daisie, a woman from Jamaica. "I'm happy." She said. "I am working for this so hard. I'm from Jamaica. It's overwhelming."
Regardless their cultural differences and individual reasons for pledging allegiance to their new country, these new citizens had one thing in common: The belief that that the United States guarantees them basic civil liberties and human rights.