Welcoming 1,001 New U.S. Citizens in DAR Constitution Hall

Written by: Beth Cagle, National Chair, Americanism Committee
September 18, 2019

What a special day it was yesterday as we celebrated Constitution Day, during Constitution Week, in Constitution Hall welcoming 1,001 new U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony. The DAR teamed up with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to host this special naturalization ceremony. While DAR Headquarters has been host to a number of USCIS naturalization ceremonies in the past, this is the first time one of such a large scale has been held in DAR Constitution Hall. It was the largest group of candidates the USCIS has welcomed into citizenship in a single ceremony in Washington, D.C. to date.

I was honored to be able to give welcome remarks on behalf of the DAR National Society and to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The ceremony was filled with pageantry and emotion. The colors were presented and, for the signing of the National Anthem, the American flag dropped from the ceiling of Constitution Hall, just as we have the pleasure of witnessing at DAR Continental Congress. Kim Zanotti, the USCIS Washington Field Office Director, gave the call of countries (117 countries total) and presentation of the candidates, while, Sarah Taylor, the USCIS Washington District Director, administered the Oath of Allegiance. Chris Liddell, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination, White House, offered the keynote remarks for the ceremony. All of the candidates who were naturalized that day were seated in the orchestra level of the Hall while more than 2,000 of their friends and family cheered them on from the tiers.

As part of my welcome remarks, I provided information about the objectives and work of our Society and our long history of supporting new citizens through the naturalization process. I also shared the following beautiful passage written by Denise Clemons, past NVC Americanism Committee: 

“And now, all of you, like my ancestors, the ancestors of each member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and all the generations that followed have the honor of fulfilling the responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.  As Americans, we value our democracy and the freedoms it represents. We embrace the rights and responsibilities of citizenship provided by our Constitution, as well as guard the protections that it affords us. It is incumbent upon all of us to honor our nation, our flag and our creed, which symbolizes, ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ out of many, we are one.”

This year, the Americanism Committee is proud to celebrate a full century of assisting individuals realize the American dream by achieving their U.S. citizenship.  In the early 1900’s, the DAR compiled and published the DAR Manual for Citizenship which was given free to immigrants seeking citizenship and more recently was used as a reference in creating preparation guides for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  The DAR is honored to have assisted so many new citizens through the naturalization process.

Today was an amazing experience! The program took less than an hour, but the experience will last a lifetime! Seeing the pride in the faces of these 1,001 newest Americans was breathtaking.  The DAR Americanism Committee encourages you to rise and shine within your community to assist with the naturalization process. You can participate in ceremonies, volunteer at your local USCIS Field Office, or volunteer to help with local citizenship classes, and the American History and U.S. Government exams.

Please learn more about the work of our committee at the Americanism Committee webpage and contact me or our Division Vice Chairs with questions about how you can get involved. Today’s newest citizen may become your neighbor, co-worker, or DAR friend. Rise and Shine for Americanism!

 

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