This Friday, September 21, 2012, the International Services Department of the Cincinnati Red Cross will celebrate International Day of Peace! In preparation for that day we would like to share with you one of our volunteer’s recent experiences at a Naturalization Ceremony held at the Cincinnati Area Chapter, on August 21st. This ceremony is one of the many efforts from our International Services Department to reach out to the international communities in our area. With no further ado, please enjoy a first hand experience from volunteer, Brian Forschner, at his FIRST Naturalization Ceremony.
On August 21st at 2:00 p.m. the deputy clerk shouted, “Hear Ye, Hear Ye!” immediately putting a halt to the hubbub in the packed Red Cross auditorium. “All rise for The Honorable Judge Sandra Beckwith, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio. Anyone having business with this court draw near and be heard.” The judge entered through a rear door and made her way to a podium, flanked by American and Red Cross flags, functioning as a judicial bench. Judge Beckwith normally conducts one naturalization ceremony a year. Her favorite venue for this is the Red Cross headquarters.
Judge Beckwith was here to swear in 42 new citizens from 29 countries. After being assured that they were all duly prepared by the naturalization officer, the judge ordered that each applicant, upon taking the oath of allegiance, be admitted to become a citizen of the United States of America.
The deputy clerk, Emily Hiltz, smiling, administered the oath, all renouncing allegiance to foreign states and sovereignties and swearing allegiance to the United States of America. With these words, destinies were unleashed. “This is the purest form of the American ideal,” Emily told me later.
After hearty applause by all present, the judge congratulated them. “I am sure that this was not a decision that you took lightly. It was quite an intrepid thing, a leap of faith.” She went on, “A high price has been paid by many for you to enjoy this citizenship.”
They were also encouraged to sign up as Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers, an organization with which they were all acquainted. Many did, and their names would meld on the Cincinnati area Red Cross volunteer roster with the likes of Kamil, Kachina, Sunil, Tomoaki, and Abdel, an incredibly diverse group.
At this point, never having witnessed this ceremony, my emotions flowed, and I was not alone. I thought of my great grandfather who, in 1886, renounced the Grand Duke of Baden and the Emperor of Germany and swore allegiance to the United States. He died on July 4th, 1896. I know that he came alone, pursuing his dreams, much the same as those present.
Amidst a flurry of photos it occurred to me that the children running about the auditorium, and those carried in their mothers’ wombs, were the major beneficiaries. By law they became citizens as well. A measureless door swung open today for these children, triggering dreams that now, merely twinkles in their eyes, will someday make us proud. Thank you to all of the dreamers in the world. We need you.