They came from all over the world: The People’s Republic of China, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, The Philippines, Somalia and The Ukraine. Some 15 new citizens were sworn in during a special ceremony Thursday at the Discovery Center in The Dalles.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Portland Field Office Director Michael Hickman administered the Oath of Allegiance, and Carmelo Gamez, a former immigrant, now a successful cherry orchardist in The Dalles, gave a short but heartfelt keynote speech.
The event was one of a hundred such ceremonies held around the country in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park System, celebrated yesterday, many of them in national parks. Oregon’s only National Park is at Crater Lake. A publicist said that sites such as the Discovery Center were chosen to provide a scenic backdrop for the ceremony.
Afterwards there were tears and laughter with the new citizens and their families. One former citizen of Somalia. resplendent in a pinstripe suit for the occaision, put it this way:
“I am happy as I take the citizen today. I am very, very happy to enjoy this country and to take the citizen … and I will be great.”
Seeing his wide smile, we don’t doubt it for a bit.