This week one of my Brazilian mission companions became a U.S. citizen. I attended his naturalization ceremony in downtown SLC, and though it wasn’t fancy, I found it to be a very patriotic event. Here’s how it went down:
“All rise”. Judge David Sam entered. United States District Court for the District of Utah was now in session. Girl scouts brought out the colors, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and then we sang the National Anthem.
Then 189 persons from 54 countries rose and repeated the following oath:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.” (via. see also.)
These 189 foreign-born persons were now American citizens, “just as American,” in Judge Sam’s words, “as any direct descendent of the Founding Fathers.”
Judge Sam let several people in the group stand and offer a few remarks about becoming U.S. citizens. A man from Mexico stood and said how thankful he was for economic opportunities, freedom of religion, and schools. A Muslim woman from Bosnia said she was thankful to be able to practice her religion and wear a veil (hijab). A man from Peru said “we can do anything here” and “we must love this country.” An El Salvadorian said “this is a promised land for everybody.” And a Venezuelan said “I’ve been American at heart for a long time.”
Judge Sam said his own parents were immigrants from Romania, saving and sacrificing to come to America. They changed their last name to Sam (like Uncle Sam) on arrival. Judge Sam then told the new citizens:
I am your servant. It is my duty and responsibility to see that you are treated equally. One of my favorite comments was from a Somalian man a few years ago. He said “If I were to become a German citizen, I’d still never be German. If I were to become a Russian citizen, I’d still never be Russian. But today I am an American.”
Freedom isn’t free. It will slip away if we don’t protect it. It needs to be protected by all who enjoy it. Let freedom ring in your life. Understand the blessings of freedom. Be law-abiding, God-fearing citizens. God bless the U.S. and all of you.
New citizens renounce allegiance to their country of birth and promise to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. If you were born in the United States, you don’t take the formal oath. But do you promise the same?