A Naturalization Ceremony to Remember

Posted on June 20th, 2017 by

A blog post by Education Interns Sara Philippe and Erin Penn.

Program

Program

Today, June 20th 2017, the Jewish Museum of Maryland was lucky and honored to host a Naturalization ceremony especially in light of the fact that today is also World Refugee Day. Twenty-eight new Americans were welcomed and embraced by their families and our community. The ceremony kicked off with a welcome from our executive director Marvin Pinkert. He shared his own family heritage as he told the story of his grandmother Ida, who emigrated from Lithuania. Then, Raha Mirzadegan led the crowd in the Star-Spangled Banner with her strong, beautiful voice. Her rich vocals struck a cord bringing many people to tears.  The Immigration Services Assistant, Iyabode Sodipo read the names of the seventeen countries from which the immigrants hailed. These countries included Nigeria, China, Belarus, and the Dominican Republic. The room vibrated with excitement as the candidates stood up and were applauded upon hearing the name of their country of origin. As the candidates recited the Oath of Allegiance, the gravity and the importance of this event rang true. The new Americans pronounced their love for the United States and their willingness to “support and defend” it.

Taking the Oath of Allegiance

Taking the Oath of Allegiance

Martha Weiman, this event’s keynote speaker, shared her own immigration story: she emigrated with her family from Germany to the United States during the Holocaust. She offered her personal ties to naturalization and the American Dream as a parallel to the stories of the 28 people being granted citizenship.  The Baltimore community jumped into the ceremony again as the Museum’s community partner, City Springs Elementary and Middle School students led the new citizens and the rest of the attendees in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. This wonderful ceremony concluded as Bari Myers from the local Immigration Services Office handed out the Certificates of citizenship. Each person joyfully leaped up to receive his or her document. Some walked up with their children, others with an American flag. One man collected his certificate in his wheel chair. All were excited to take pictures with their certificates, families, and the American flag following the end of the ceremony.

Some of the happy families celebrating their new citizen!

Some of the happy families celebrating their new citizen!

This ceremony brought to life the immigrant experience for us. While the Jewish Museum’s Voices of Lombard Street exhibit displays the life of the immigrants from the turn of the century, this event put into perspective the hopes, dreams, fears, and other emotions involved in the immigrant experience today. These people who were granted citizenship today accomplished a huge dream, surely having overcome many obstacles; they have left their country, learned a new language, and vowed to support the United States. Both of us have a great grandmother who emigrated from Lithuania. They and their families traveled across the ocean to an unknown world in order for a better life and security. This ceremony today reminded us of our history and provided a chance to discover the true significance and continuation of the American dream.

Die cut card of an immigration scene, 1909 by the Heb. Publishing Company. Lady Liberty opens a metal gate for the family, while an American eagle watches overhead. JMM 1997.101.3

Die cut card of an immigration scene, 1909 by the Heb. Publishing Company. Lady Liberty opens a metal gate for the family, while an American eagle watches overhead. JMM 1997.101.3

 

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