Reflections on the Impact and Importance of Citizenship
Posted by Keith Canney, St. Albans Acting Field Office Director
As Acting Director of the St. Albans Field Office, I recently had the privilege to participate in a naturalization ceremony at the Beeman Elementary School in New Haven, Vermont. As I watched the 39 soon-to-be U.S. citizens enter the school with their families and friends, I wondered what was going through their minds as they waited to become U.S. citizens.
Several years ago I was in New York City to attend an immigration conference. During that trip, I visited Ellis Island taking a similar route my grandfather took when he first immigrated to this country from Italy. As I rode over on the ferry, I remember wondering what was going through my grandfather’s mind when he traveled across these same waters, and saw the Statute of Liberty and the New York shorelines for the first time. I tried to imagine the excitement and nervousness he felt as he reached the end of his long journey to arrive in the U.S.
I imagined that these immigrants felt the same excitement as they smiled broadly while watching the Beeman Elementary students sing patriotic songs. As each naturalization candidate raised their right hand to take the Oath of Allegiance, I thought of my grandfather and his immigration experience.
Once the Oath was completed and Judge John Conroy welcomed the new citizens, there was a long applause from their family and friends, the students and faculty, and the participants. I proudly shook each of their hands and remembered the impact and importance that this moment had on my grandfather’s life. I was grateful that I could share such an important and significant day in their lives.
Participation in this ceremony reminded me of the important work done by USCIS employees every day, and how the work we do makes a difference in the lives of these new citizens. The decision to become a U.S. citizen had an impact on everyone who took an Oath that day and will continue to affect the lives of future generations.
To all of the U.S. citizens that were naturalized that day, welcome and congratulations again! It was an honor and privilege to share in your naturalization experience!