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Monday, 04 July 2022 13:29

DNI Haines Welcomes 15 New Americans at Town of Vienna Naturalization Ceremony

 

Story and photos by Annika Moody, ODNI Office of Strategic Communications

 

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines welcomed new U.S. citizens as they took the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony in Vienna, Virginia, July 2.

 

“To our newest citizens, congratulations on reaching this final step in the naturalization process. I suspect you'll remember this occasion for the rest of your lives, and I am truly honored to be among those here to witness it and to celebrate you joining us as fellow Americans," said Haines. "And a community center, frankly, strikes me as the perfect setting for this ceremony as you are truly joining our community--and no better place to do so than in the state of Virginia where Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, lived--and on the very weekend that we celebrate the 246th anniversary of its adoption."

 

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The event was held by the Town of Vienna in conjunction with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as a part of Vienna’s Liberty Amendments Month.

 

Started last year, Liberty Amendments Month is celebrated from Juneteenth to July 19 as a way to bring together the greater Vienna community and celebrate its rich and diverse heritage. Each week focuses on one of the Constitutional amendments that extend rights and liberties to U.S. citizens who originally were excluded from the Constitution.

 

This event celebrated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and welcomed 15 new citizens from 15 countries including Afghanistan, Bolivia, Canada, El Salvador, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Honduras, India, Iran, Morocco, Nepal, Peru, Venezuela and Vietnam.

 

In Haines' keynote address, she shared her family's immigration history. Her paternal grandmother, who was Episcopalian, moved to the U.S. from the Isle of Man; and her maternal grandparents were Jewish and arrived in New York City from Russia in the early 1900’s. "They were enthralled by a government that vest power in the people and that understood that the Constitution to which you've now sworn allegiance confers both rights and duties to those who are bound by it."

 

Holding American flags and with family and friends in attendance, the candidates reflected on their stories as Haines continued.

 

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"I'd love to hear about the path that brought each of you to this moment as I'm certain every one of you have an incredible story to tell, and--as of today--your story is now a part of our story," said Haines.

 

In a press release, Vienna Parks and Recreation event coordinator, Lily Widman, spoke about how inspiring it is to see people reach the conclusion of the long process in becoming a U.S. citizen and how happy she was to coordinate this ceremony.

 

“I’m so glad we were able to coordinate this event and time it for Liberty Amendments Month,” said Widman. “Through this ceremony, we get to be a witness to history as people take the same Oath of Allegiance that has been administered for generations. It also gives us a chance to reflect on what makes our country so special.”

 

As USCIS holds more than 120 naturalization ceremonies all across the U.S. welcoming over 9,000 new citizens, we are reminded this Fourth of July that America was founded as a nation of immigrants, and through our diversity we find our greatest strength.

 

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“Congratulations to each of you, my fellow citizens, and Happy Independence Day,” Haines concluded.