|Nearly 100 become U.S. citizens in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore|
|Thursday, 14 June 2012 15:40|
Those who have gone through the process of preparing for citizenship assembled at Mount Rushmore Thursday to take possession of the fruits of their labors. More than 90 people became new American citizens in a ceremony at the Memorial's Amphitheatre. They came from places like Somalia, The Ukraine, and other places all over the world to take the oath of citizenship at the Shrine of Democracy. For many, it was the culmination of a long process of interviews, paperwork and study. But this, finally, was the big day.
The finish line, as it were; but also a new beginning. Sabina Kabirova says, "I am so happy to be here today. This is like a dream come true." Maijah Odle says, "I am so exited. It's one of the best days of my life. So lucky to be a citizen of this amazing country, and I'm so lucky to live in Hill City, and the ceremony is at Mount Rushmore, and you can't ask for a better day."
The featured speaker at Thurday's ceremonies was Qusi Al-Haj, the regional director for South Dakota Senator John Thune. Qusi is a Palestinian whose family was displaced by the turmoil in the Middle East, and decided to come to America as a young man. He titled his address today, "An Immigrant Journey." Members of the Dakota Choral Union sang classic American hymns at today's ceremony. And students from West Middle School read essays on what it means to be an American. There were welcome messages from the Mount Rushmore Society and from the Superintendent of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Finally, perhaps the most important honor to be placed on these new citizens, the right to vote. The new Americans who wanted to, were given the opportunity to register to vote right there at Mount Rushmore.
Al Van Zee