Among the treasured experiences I've had in my life, I count the opportunities that I've had twice to attend a naturalization ceremony as very precious. Today was even more wonderful because I was able to take little c with me. Pictured above are new American citizens originating from 52 nations. They are swearing that they will defend and protect and serve their new country. Standing are 63 new American citizens originating from Mexico. Judge Sam of the Federal District Court of the State of Utah President Bush welcoming new citizens to our great land...
This is a patriotic and emotional experience for me. I have a difficult time controlling intense feeling of gratitude. My ancestors were immigrants too after all.
Judge Sam told the story of his own parents. His father left his mother, who was expecting their first child, after one year of marriage. And, with some money sewn into his clothes, he walked across Europe from Romania to find a way to get to the United States. When Judge Sam was old enough to understand this terrible risk and sacrifice, he asked his father how he could have done this knowing that it was possible that he would never see his wife again. His father said, "That was the easy part of the decision. There are some things more important than life, liberty is one of those things."
I am always moved to tears by what these new immigrants say about where they have come from and how they feel about the blessing of citizenship. They always express a deep sense of awe and gratitude. They are thankful for freedom. As I sit there and look at all these people, many of whom look and dress differently from myself, I am so impressed by all that we have in common... a deep desire for justice and an abiding love of liberty.
Subsequently, I will never forget the words of a tall black man from Africa. He said that when he fled his native land, he had been offered the opportunity to settle in several different nations. He mentioned that he could have gone to England, Ireland or Poland, but he was desperate to come to America instead. He said that if he had become a citizen of one of those other countries, he could live there all his life, but he would still be an alien. "Today," he said, "as I have taken this oath, I am an American."