CALUMET — The United States population grew by 23 on Thursday afternoon. That’s the number of people who took the Oath of Allegiance to become United States citizens at a national park in Calumet.
Friends and family packed the Keweenaw National Historical Park Calumet Visitor Center to watch their loved ones complete a long and difficult process to gaining citizenship. 23 people from 14 different countries sat on the stage and waited for the ending of this lengthy process, some of which have been working toward this day for 30 years.
“It’s meaningful because they have now become a part of America,” said the Honorable R. Allan Edgar, the U.S. District Judge who presented the certificates to the new citizens. “They made a commitment to this country, and they will become a very important part of this country and contribute to our well being for years to come.”
“There are certain days that you always remember, maybe your wedding day or birth of your first child,” said Village of Calumet President David Geisler. “For these 23 people, taking the Oath of Allegiance and becoming citizens of the United States, that’s a day they will never ever forget.”
While immigration is talked about a lot in today’s political culture and can have negative connotations, today’s ceremony showed that this form of immigration is not only a good thing, but it should be celebrated.
“This is a community that was built by immigrants,” said Geisler, who also is the chair of the Keweenaw National Historical Advisory Commission. “My grandparents, who came from Slovenia, to welcome new citizens here in a community where my ancestors took the Oath of Allegiance, that’s incredible. I mean, I love that link from generation to generation.”
“Well this particular ceremony today was a particularly nice one,” Judge Edgar said. “I think it’s very nice to have it here in a national park. And everybody joined in singing the national anthem, which isn’t something that often happens in these ceremonies. I’ve done a lot of them before and this one was just fantastic.”
There ceremony also featured speeches from the park superintendent and the Director of the Great Lakes District for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, and the Colors were presented by Calumet’s Junior R.O.T.C. program.