INDIANAPOLIS — In a flurry of red, white and blue, 75 long journeys came to an end.
They came from India and China, Haiti and Vietnam, Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom. Some had lived here for years, others only recently reached our shores.
Now, they are all home.
The newest American citizens gathered at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site Friday to take an Oath of Citizenship during a special naturalization ceremony Friday. Thirty-three countries were represented in the ceremony, which was presided over by US District Court Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker and included music, special presentations and gifts for the participants.
The spirit of the event was a celebration of the immigrant spirit, as well as emphasizing the responsibility that the new American citizens now help shoulder.
“The promise of those rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness underlies the hopes and aspirations of all of us, new and old,” Barker said. We chose to live out this promise together. Recent events across our country demonstrate that these goals are never fully secured once and for all. It’s an ongoing daily struggle, and each generation of Americans must take up the cause and work towards their accomplishment. ”
The naturalization ceremony is organized by the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Though the court holds ceremonies for new citizens twice each month, the one held every July 1 is unique.
This was the 20th anniversary of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site hosting the ceremony, which corresponds with the Independence Day holiday. There was great symbolism of holding the event at Harrison’s Indianapolis home — Ellis Island, the foremost immigration station in the US, was opened in 1892 during Harrison’s presidency.
“On behalf of the family of Benjamin Harrison and the site, I’m delighted to welcome you here to welcome you here today on this auspicious occasion, and congratulate you on your new citizenship,” said Kim Morsman, the great-great-grandson of Harrison who regularly attends the ceremony.
This was the first naturalization ceremony at the Harrison site in two years, as the pandemic forced it to be canceled in 2020 and 2021. The absence led to a spirit of celebration throughout the morning.
As the group of 75 new citizens, and hundreds of supporters, waited under a white tent on the presidential site’s lawn, a band played Dixieland jazz and other tunes. They came dressed to celebrate, bringing with them their cultural dress and traditions to add to the fabric of the United States.
Some people cooled themselves with red, white and blue fans. A buzz of anticipation filled the air.
Participants had been approved for naturalization by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, who were on site Friday for a final interview with the candidates. The ceremony was a mix of official actions conducted by the federal court, and more symbolic gestures.
New citizens took the Oath of Allegiance, which resulted in wild applause once it had been completed. Country-by-country, the new citizens stood up to receive miniature American flags from children who volunteered to pass them out.
Everyone present said the Pledge of Allegiance near the close of the ceremony.
“For you new citizens, today’s ceremony represents the culmination of your own individual pilgrimage, whatever the specific motivation was years ago that set you on your course to becoming an American citizens,” Barker said. journey. ”
Throughout the event, Barker addressed the fact that those gathered to be naturalized brought with them the talents, vision and drive to help the country at a time of great need. Their actions moving forward would help shape their communities and the United States as a whole — A tradition that immigrants have taken up since the country was found.
“Thank you to all of you for choosing to come. Thank you for being here today, thank you for all that you promise to provide by being here,” Barker said. ”We are deeply grateful that you have chosen to stake your all to be an American citizen. ”
That theme was reiterated by Azher Khan, an immigrant from Pakistan. Khan came to the United States in 1972 to complete his education. He founded his own company, Calderon Textiles, in his garage. That company now stocks textiles from all over the world for hospitals, cruise ships, hotels and other customers. In addition, he is active in the central Indiana community, including engagement in disaster relief and civic education.
Khan, who became a naturalized citizen in 1985, emphasized how important immigrants are to the country.
“People sometimes forget that it is immigrants that made this country great, and it’s proven again and again and again,” he said.