The smile on the face of newly sworn-in American citizen Dr. Raphael Bolanle Alade, age 82, as he clutched a small American flag told the whole story.
“The freedom in the American system of government makes the country great and the young minds should appreciate the benefit of the welcome that America gives to people from other nations of the world to come in to enrich and develop the country. That is why America is truly called a melting pot,” he noted.
Eighth graders in Mrs. Sam Schaedler’s social studies class had the opportunity to experience that melting pot firsthand. A “Daughter of the American Revolution,” Schaedler brought a group of eleven students to the Carl B. Stokes United States Courthouse, to witness more than 80 individuals from nearly 40 countries become American citizens.
“It was a really good experience,” said Chartre’Ana Watson. “I have never seen our government at work or been in a courtroom before. It was nice to see people from different countries become citizens and how happy they were to become Americans.”
Before US District Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. administered the Naturalization Oath, he proudly introduced the group of students from Brady Middle School, noting that the diversity even among the group of students was ‘what our country is all about.’ He thanked them for being a part of such a momentous occasion for the new citizens who hailed from places as diverse as India, Albania, Cuba, Romania, Nigeria, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“People in America mean something,” Judge Oliver said, addressing the more than 200 people in attendance at the morning ceremony. “You looked to America as a land of opportunity. All persons here are ‘created equal with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ You need to hold America to those rights and ideals.”
Students Ryan Vincent, Jane Boyle and Avery Krasnow did just that. They were selected to read aloud essays they had written on the responsibilities, both personal and civic, that make an individual a good citizen.
“It was an unbelievable honor to stand before this group of new citizens and their families,” effused Vincent. “With all they had gone through to get to this point, they gave me a new appreciation for what it means to be an American. I was a part of history, and I will never forget it.”
Following the ceremony, Brady students presented a copy of The Constitution and an American flag to each of the new citizens.
“It was so interesting seeing all of the people from different countries and how excited they were!” exclaimed eighth grader Hannah Shuffer. “As soon as the Oath was done, everyone started cheering and smiling. It was an amazing feeling to be there and be a part of the ceremony.”