Greenbelt Day Naturalization Ceremony
Each year the first weekend in June is celebrated in Greenbelt as Greenbelt Day Weekend. In June 1937, Maryland State Legislature approved Greenbelt’s city charter, establishing the first city manager/council form of government in Maryland. During Greenbelt Day Weekend, a host of events take place in the city, from youth triathlon to baseball all-star game, art activities, and concert by the Greenbelt Concert Band. For the past four years, a naturalization ceremony has also been held in the Greenbelt Community Center.
The sign on the Community Center door says that the United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) will “begin processing candidates” at 12 noon and “administer the Oath of Allegiance to U.S. citizenship candidates” at 1 p.m.
At the back of the Community Center gym, the Greenbelt Police Department Color Guard prepares before the naturalization ceremony.
Mayor Judith Davis welcomes those gathered to Greenbelt. She says that this is the fourth time that the Greenbelt Community Center has hosted a naturalization ceremony: “This fits right in with Greenbelt’s Community Pledge and our inclusive communities program.” She congratulates the naturalization candidates: “This is the culmination of a long and perhaps difficult journey. I commend you on your determination, faith, and courage.”
City Councilwoman Silke Pope says that she was sworn in as an United States citizen in 2006: “It was a great experience but it wasn’t nice and cool like here. I was in the middle of Baltimore, in a big ball field, and it was 110 degrees.” She tells that she came from Germany to the U.S. in 1982 when she just 20 years old. After a few years, she returned to Germany and came for the second time in 1998. She decided to get involved in her community and became an American citizen. She urges the candidates to be active in their communities: “With dedication and hard work, the possibilities here in this country are endless.”
Mayor Davis says that the person who was going to sing the national anthem got sick, and Aaron Solomon, a Greenbelt resident and part-time city employee, fills in.
Rosio Lombardo of the USCIS’s Baltimore office leads the 46 citizenship candidates in saying the Oath of Allegiance: “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.”
Many hugs after the oath.
Rosio Lombardo leads the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Davis congratulates the 46 new United States citizens. She says that we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants and she traces her ancestry to Germany, Poland, Czech Slovakia, and England: “There may have been a few other countries that we don’t know of.” She concludes: “We may not all be citizens of Greenbelt but we are now all citizens of the United States.”
Rosio Lombardo distributes citizenship certificates to the 46 new U.S. citizens. They came from Pakistan, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Georgia, Togo, Kenya, Peru, Nigeria, Philippines, India, Uganda, El Salvador, Turkey, Ghana, Trinidad and Tobago, Cameroon, Guatemala, New Guinea, United Kingdom, Columbia, Chile, Iran, Liberia, Algeria, Sierra Leone, China, Ivory Coast, and Nepal.
After receiving their citizenship certificates, the new citizens shake hands with Greenbelt City Council members.
Family members and friends take photos.
Some bring children to the podium to accept the certificate together.
It is an emotional moment for many of them.
After the ceremony, the new citizens pose for pictures with city council members. Here Ed Putens and Emmett Jordan smile with a new citizen from China.
New citizens and their families pose for photos with the flags of the United States and the Department of Homeland Security. The USCIS is an agency under DHS.
An extended family
Councilmember Silke Pope congratulates a new citizen from the Philippines.