Thank you, Judge Lopez and Judge Walton. Warmest congratulations to each and every one of you. I am honored to be the first officially to call all of you, “My fellow Americans”…
There are few more meaningful occasions than this -- when one fulfills his or her dream of embracing this great country as one’s own. I know I am not supposed to play favorites, but I must confess I am particularly proud of one of the new Americans here: my husband, Ian Cameron. After over thirty years in the U.S. as a committed Canadian, he decided in 2008 that he is truly an American. It’s taken a while, but like you, he made it. Way to go, honey.
This is a big day for us all—and a big day for our country. Each time new citizens swear to support and defend our Constitution and our laws, each time new citizens pledge allegiance to our flag and our founding values, we write a new page in the American story.
You are the newest citizens of the world’s oldest democracy—an exceptional nation that has always been a country of immigrants. Some came by plane, and some by foot, and some on slave ships, but unless you’re one of the first Americans, we all came here from somewhere else.
In 1912, my mother’s parents emigrated from Jamaica to Portland, Maine. My grandfather took the best job he could get—as a janitor. My grandmother worked as a maid and seamstress. Somehow, my grandparents managed to scrimp and save and send all five of their children to college. And the granddaughter of those Jamaican immigrants now serves in the cabinet of the president of the United States.
Just like you, my grandparents swore an oath that changed their lives. Just like you, they invented themselves anew. And just like you, they became part of something larger—dreamers of the American dream.
The citizenship we share is rooted in individual achievement but also in patriotism, community, service, and our responsibilities to one another. As President Obama has said, all Americans must recognize “that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.”
We Americans do not fear difference. We celebrate it. In the interwoven world of the 21st century, our diversity is a profound source of strength and renewal. Around this room, we see the well-springs of American greatness and growth. We Americans come from every corner of the globe. We Americans speak every language on Earth. And we unite around our love of liberty—50 states, 300 million people, all dedicated to the principle of E pluribus unum—out of many, one.
That’s what makes America a beacon of hope around the world. That’s what draws people to a republic where you can rise as high as your talents take you. And that’s what brings us together, as President Obama said, to “carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”
My fellow Americans, congratulations. Thank you, God bless you and God bless our beloved America.
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