Annual Naturalization Ceremony Held at Monticello
For the 57th year, the west lawn at Monticello briefly held court, and on this Fourth of July, 76 people took the final steps to become citizens of the United States.
The new citizens got some words of wisdom from a constitutional rights and national unity advocate before taking their oath of allegiance.
Gold star parent Khizr Khan, the father of University of Virginia graduate and U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, spoke about his own experience as a naturalized citizen.
Khizr Khan used his platform as a gold star parent and constitutional rights and national unity advocate to speak to them about what it means to him to go through this process.
In his speech, Khan reflected on the first time he read the Declaration of Independence, standing in his dorm room while he was a student.
Khan says he hopes these newly-minted citizens stand up for their own turn to participate in America’s democracy.
He mentioned a promise he made to himself when he was naturalized. “I promised myself to obey all laws, pay my taxes timely – yes - pay my taxes timely, and participate in our system of democracy to strengthen it and keeping my promise to my country after 2016 even though it has been difficult at times.”
Khan also brought up the record high number of people who voted in elections in 2018. He says he hopes everyone who is able to uses their right and power to vote.
“Never before that many Americans have participated in the elections because they realized that non participation is not a choice. And that is what I take out of it, that is what I share with my fellow Americans, that we must participate, we must join hands to strengthen our democracy and our country,” he stated.
Hira Azher, a student at the University of Virginia says Khan helped her recognize that she could spend one year, $1,000, and endless trips to Washington D.C., to become an American citizen.
“When I first came to Charlottesville it was the year right after the August 11th riots, or the summer right after. So I think especially as somebody who looks visibly different - as someone who is Pakistani and an immigrant - he shows that Charlottesville is a lot more than what those riots represented,” she stated. “I'm a Pakistani and a Muslim so oftentimes our voices aren't able to be heard in bigger platforms so I think it's important that we show our voices and sometimes the best way to do that is voting.”