Celebrating the Fourth

Today, for the first time in my life, I witnessed the swearing in of new citizens of the United States of America.  Fifty people from 30 countries stood before their families, friends, teachers and strangers to swear their allegiance to the US.  

Local Boy Scouts presented the flag.  We all pledged allegiance, led by two new Americans, both of whom had become citizens earlier this year.  Evelyn Harris of Sweet Honey in the Rock, sang America the Beautiful, The Star-spangled Banner and My Country 'Tis of Thee with a grace and power in her voice that brought many assembled to tears.

The Honorable Michael Ponsor, US District Judge presided over the ceremonies.  His words to the new Americans touched me.  He encouraged them to continue growing as Americans, to vote, a responsibility we all should take seriously, and not to abandon their native cultures, but to incorporate them into their day-to-day lives as new Americans.

For me, this was a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of our country.  Tears filled my eyes as I listened to the 50 new Americans promise to take on the responsibilities that many of us never think about.  Perhaps it should be mandatory for all students, before graduating from high school, to raise their hands before receiving their diplomas in order to pledge to protect and uphold the freedom we enjoy.  

We, in this United States, often forget just what it means to be an American.  The thing is, it is so much more than simply wearing red, white and blue, or tooling around in a truck decked out in flags, or even recognizing the sacrifices of others.  Being an American is about being a witness to the millions of acts of courage, patriotism, compassion and creativity that are performed daily.  Being an American is realizing that we are a Nation great because of its diversity; that we do not have to be the same to love this country or each other.  

May we all be blessed on this Fourth of July; may we hold those who have gone before us in our hearts and on our minds and may we never forget that sacrifice, hard-work, creativity, trust and courage are what helped make this country great.


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Holly Michael said…
Loved the day my husband was made a citizen!

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