Nancy Wyman, the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, enthusiastically posed that question to the crowd at Tuesday’s naturalization ceremony, held in the atrium of the Hartford Public Library.
The 28 new Americans came from 18 different countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Chile, China, Colombia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Poland, and Saint Lucia; the largest number of new Americans came from Poland.
While most of us can not even remember the moment we became Americans — our mothers did that work for us by ensuring we were born here — these new citizens captured the moment, posing with Judge Martinez for photographs of themselves with their Certificates of Naturalization. This step came after jumping through hoops that the average American would find exasperating. One requirement of those applying for citizenship is that they demonstrate “good moral character,” which can prove problematic even for those who have an otherwise clean criminal record, but who have ever struggled with addiction. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in its guide to the naturalization process, lists “habitual drunkenness” as an example of something that could demonstrate a lack of good moral character. Applicants are also told that they must “demonstrate an understanding of the English language,” something that native born Americans are not required to do.
Judge Martinez, told the room of immigrants: “Your presence here today is an honor.”
Dr. Christina Kishimoto, the new Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools spoke to the abundance of diversity in the city, stating that there are 71 language groups represented within the district.
During the ceremony, the President Lincoln portrayer recited the Gettysburg Address; this was a hit with everyone, including students from the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy select choir, who swiftly moved from their seats in order to get a good view. He explained the rhetorical choices Lincoln made when crafting speeches, saying how the aim was to reach the common person.
After the ceremony, a reception was held on the third floor; new citizens were able to enjoy refreshments, register to vote, apply for passports, and visit the Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America exhibit, which opened yesterday. This exhibit features reproduction artifacts and is located in the Hartford History Center.
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
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