On Friday, April 13, Pawling had the honor of hosting the Dutchess County Naturalization Ceremony, which officially welcomed eighty new citizens to our country. Co-sponsored by the Pawling Rotary Club, the event was held in the auditorium at the Lathrop Center in Lakeside Park.
The Naturalization Ceremony served to officially welcome eighty new United States citizens from all corners of the world. In all, thirty-nine different countries were represented, including China, India, Nepal, Germany, Nigeria, Colombia, Russia, Haiti, Ireland, and Australia. For those becoming citizens, the day’s events marked the culmination of the long application process and the start of their new lives as Americans. “We know how hard you have worked to be here today,” said Jeff Asher, President of the Pawling Rotary Club during his welcome remarks. “On a personal note, my grandmother came from Germany and my grandfather from Russia as young adults. I am a second-generation citizen, and thanks to my grandparents I was able to live the American dream. Today, eighty of you will be given the same chance.”
The afternoon was presided over by New York State Supreme Court Justice Christi J. Acker of the 9th Judicial District. In attendance were numerous state and local officials, including representatives from the New York State Senate and United States Congress, Dutchess County Comptroller Robin Lois, Village of Pawling Mayor Robert Liffland, and Town of Pawling Supervisor James Schmitt, who also addressed the new citizens: “Nothing makes this country as strong a place than people like you working hard to achieve the American dream. You contribute the best of yourself and your cultures to this great nation of ours, which is truly a nation of immigrants. Our diversity is our strength, and now you are American citizens. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The new citizens took the Oath of Allegiance, led by Dutchess County Clerk Bradford H. Kendall. Each new citizen stood with right hand raised and declared their support for the Constitution and laws of the United States of America. At the completion of the oath, the eighty people who entered the building as immigrants became citizens.
The keynote address was provided by Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson, who spoke on the responsibilities and privileges that accompany United States citizenship. “This is what you should strive for: Join clubs, churches, and boards. Become interested in your community,” he urged. “Treat others the way you want to be treated. Feel free to express your opinions, this is the land of the free, and the home of the brave. The opportunities that are here, the freedom that is here for you, use it. Don’t ever be afraid.”
Following Sheriff Anderson’s remarks, the new citizens would then hear about voting rights from Dutchess County Board of Elections Commissioner Marco Cavilgia. Judge Acker provided closing remarks, and the ceremony concluded with a rendition of “America the Beautiful, performed by members of the Christ Church on Quaker Hill Singers and the Putnam Chorale. The new citizens were then invited up on stage for the distribution of citizenship certificates accompanied by American flags and personal congratulations from the dignitaries in attendance.
By the end of the afternoon, the United States had welcomed eighty new citizens, each ready to start a new chapter of their lives as Americans. For all in attendance, it was also a reminder of just how important our rights and freedoms truly are.