Ceremony highlights freedoms, responsibilities of citizenship

Thirty-one new citizens were naturalized during a ceremony held Wednesday, May 10, at South View Middle School. They hailed from 18 different countries, including Canada, Denmark, Egypt, South Sudan, Burma and Somalia.
“I want to applaud you for all of your achievements that lead you to this day,” Judge David T. Schultz said. “I want to acknowledge the struggles and hardships … leaving your homeland, often saying goodbye to family and friends … and adjusting to a new culture and new way of life.”
Becoming a naturalized citizen is not an easy process.
After living in the United States for five years (three if a spouse of a citizen), people seeking citizenship must demonstrate the ability to understand the English language as well as good moral character.
They must also take a test that includes civics questions covering topics such as voting rights in the Constitution and how a bill becomes a law, or naming two Cabinet-level positions in the executive branch, as well as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
“I know for many of you, this represents a dream come true,” Schultz said. “I hope you continue to dream and that all of your dreams will come true. I hope your dreams will not die in their sleep.”
Schultz said that while in the oath they said they would no longer swear allegiance to the government of any other country, that does not mean they need to renounce their love of that country, including customs, people, language and otherwise.
“Never forget those things, for the benefit of yourself, your children, grandchildren, and other people in the United States,” Schultz said. “In my family, and family of my wife, the three generations back, we were all immigrants, and to this day we have preserved many of the aspects of my family’s and my wife’s family’s native culture, including, sometimes unfortunately, the cuisine they cooked in those native lands.”
Schultz added that retaining culture from other lands and ancestors enriches America.
“For over 200 years, we have been blessed with a constant infusion … a combination of all the nations that have come to its shores,” Schultz said. “When you share with all of us the best of your culture, you teach us the tolerance that is necessary for our peaceful survival.”
Schultz said that being a citizen means that we are able to think freely, voice opinions openly, and free to believe, read and follow whichever ideological path we choose, even if few people agree with them.
The responsibilities of citizenship including making educated choices when voting and treating jury duty as a crucial part of democracy – instead of an inconvenience.
“Our country will only continue to thrive as a great nation if we care about our fellow citizens,” Schultz said. “As new citizens, you can set an example of compassion and tolerance for everyone to follow.”