Sterling Heights Naturalization Ceremony
Have you ever been to a naturalization ceremony? It is a very moving and inspiring experience. Sterling Heights recently held their 4th annual Naturalization Ceremony in conjunction with Sterlingfest. The event is hosted by the City's Ethnic Community Committee, whose motto is "One City Many Cultures." Joined by friends & family, 41 local residents gathered to become citizens, hailing from Albania, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Montenegro, Pakistan, Philippines, Sweden, United Kingdom. The ceremony started with Presentation of the Colors by Veterans of Foreign War Post 6250. The Field Director of USCIS opened the ceremony by acknowledging the agency's mission to uphold America's promise as a nation of immigrants, and shared his own family's immigrant story. His grandparents came from Germany for many of the same reasons immigrants have come for centuries, seeking freedom, to pursue better work opportunities, for better lives for their children, and for love. He urged the new citizens to remember their immigrant stories, and also to exercise their right to vote. Ike Cabase, Chairman of the City's Ethnic Community Committee, gave welcoming remarks and acknowledged his mixed heritage with three flags - his Filipino father served in the U.S. Navy and met his mother in Panama. Ike asked the new citizens to get involved and do something to help the rest of the community. Mayor Richard Notte was the keynote speaker, saying: "The only real Americans are American Indians... We are proud of our Ethnic Community Committee who helps you learn about other cultures. Because the more we get to know each other the more we will get along." Judge George Caram Steeh presided over the ceremony, noting that the 41 new citizens were risk takers who were not afraid to improve their lives. After the new citizens recited the oath of allegiance, Judge Steeh advised them to take advantage of their new responsibilities including registering to vote, running for office, and serving on a jury. The ceremony concluded with an inspiring video message to the new citizens from President Obama: "No dream is impossible, you can help write the next great chapter in American history." The experience elicited both smiles of accomplishment and tears of pride & joy among audience members, including those were born U.S. citizens. If you ever get a chance to witness a naturalization ceremony, please take the opportunity to support your new American neighbors -- you won't regret it!