For some, feeling patriotic may be difficult as of late. There's nothing better to help remedy that than attending a citizenship ceremony on the eve of our country's birth.
Today, as is tradition, 96 individuals hailing from 37 different countries became naturalized citizens at the historic home of Indiana's own president, Benjamin Harrison. Some distinguished guests included Mayor Joe Hogsett, Congresswoman Susan Brooks, and IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee. Judge Sarah Evans Barker presided over the ceremony, sharing a message, loud and clear, to all of the new citizens: "you are welcome."
The ceremony was a celebration of many things; a celebration of family, a celebration of community and openness, and it was a celebration of the founding values of our country. Families cheered for their new citizen and gathered close to take pictures. Children in the crowd were given the role of dispersing flags and welcoming handshakes to each new citizen. Nobody was separated.
The ceremony took place at the home of a President, in a tent on the lawn; as Judge Barker pointed out, there were no walls.
The founding values of our country were present in this and in so much more: new citizens embracing their role in America while bringing their heritage with them, civic groups welcoming and congratulating the crowd and encouraging them to access their rights and privileges as a citizen, and voting registration available right outside the ceremony.
There are many reasons to not want to become a U.S. citizen. There are many reasons to be disappointed in our country, and to want it to be better. Seeing so many individuals make the choice to become a citizen and take on the responsibilities that citizenship entails, despite the flaws of our country and of our people, is a great reminder of the freedoms that our country provides.
It is a great way to celebrate Independence Day.