Rites of Citizenship for Immigrants

In a naturalization ceremony at Monticello, 76 adults representing more than 30 countries became citizens of the United States of America. A Chinese-born architect delivered the keynote address, in which he remembered his arrival in the United States in 1935. Some 450,000 men, women and children will become U.S. citizens this year.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

(Soundbite of "Stars and Stripes Forever")

NORRIS: At Monticello today, the home of Thomas Jefferson, a very special Independence Day celebration.

Unidentified Man: Your Honor, I present to you 76 adult applicants for naturalization, and three children. Each of these applicants has been interviewed by an officer of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Each of these 79 applicants have been found eligible for naturalization at this time.

NORRIS: And so began a naturalization ceremony on Monticello's West Lawn. Judge James Jones of the western district of Virginia presided.

Judge JAMES JONES (Western District of Virginia): ...that I will support and defend...

Group of Applicants: (In unison) ...that I will support and defend...

Judge JONES: ...the Constitution and the laws...

Group of Applicants: (In unison) ...the Constitution and the laws...

Judge JONES: ...of the United States of America...

Group of Applicants: (In unison) ...of the United States of America...

Judge JONES ...against all enemies, foreign or domestic...

Group of Applicants: (In unison) ...against all enemies, foreign or domestic...

NORRIS: Chinese-born architect I.M. Pei delivered the keynote address. Pei was naturalized in 1954, nearly two decades after coming to the US to study architecture. He said he'll never forget the day he arrived in America. He was just 17.

Mr. I.M. PEI (Architect): Now the name of the island, if I remember correctly, is called Angel Island where I landed, not Ellis Island, like many of you probably came. But it could have been Devils Island and my reaction would have been the same: a sense of joy.

NORRIS: Architect I.M. Pei, speaking today at a naturalization ceremony at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Fifteen thousand people are expected to take the oath of allegiance at ceremonies across the US this Fourth of July week. More than 450,000 new American citizens will be sworn in this year.

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