Seventy nine people from 38 countries became U.S. citizens today, during the annual swearing in at the home of Thomas Jefferson. The event drew more than 3,000 people – in part because the featured speaker was a Grammy-winning rock star.
It was an exciting day for people who had waited years to become citizens, with some extra sparkle thanks to rock star and speaker Dave Matthews, who was born in South Africa and became a citizen in 1980.
"I like the hardships that comes with trying to become a citizen. I like bureaucracy. It just makes things funnier after it’s done. My friend Connor knew what I was talking about. Before the happy Fourth of July celebration in 2000, when he became a citizen, he was getting his paperwork application together and then was informed that his finger prints had expired. "
Matthews thanked the new citizens for enriching this country with their cultures, and they added their own words of thanks. Here are Otilla Arojo, Beyan Johnson, and Jasine Darzyk.
“I want to say thank you to my very special angel – Mr. and Mrs. Lang. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and my Marcos. God bless you, and I love you. First of all, I want to thank the almighty God, and thank you to the United Nations, and thank you to great American for accepting my family here. It is a land of opportunity. It is a land that can bless you if you decide to be someone. It feels wonderful to be an American. It’s an honor and a joy to be here. Thank you.”
The presiding judge, Glenn Conrad, then reminded the new Americans that they were eligible to vote.
“And closer to my heart, you become eligible to serve as jurors in one of our state courts or federal courts, so if called on to do so, remember, with citizenship comes responsibilities and duties. If called to serve as a juror, do so willingly, freely, with enthusiasm, because you’ll find it a very interesting and worthwhile thing to do.”
This was the 51st year that Monticello has hosted the naturalization ceremony through which more than 3,000 people have become citizens.