I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
…and with that, 39 people, representing 29 countries became citizens of the United States of America on July 4, 2014 on the rear patio of the William Paca House and Garden in Annapolis. Paca was one of four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Today was the ninth naturalization ceremony, a moving tribute to our nation and wonderful way to kick off the Independence Day holiday.
Squire Frederic Taylor called the gathering to order, we heard from William Paca who congratulated our new citizens. Robert Clark, CEO of Historic Annapolis hosted the ceremony that included a presentation of colors by the Annapolis High School NJROTC Cadets, and several patriotic songs by the All Children’s Chorus of Annapolis.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator for the US Small Business Administration presented the keynote. Contreras-Sweet choked up several times during her speech as she recollected leaving her native Mexico as a child against her wishes and on the sage advice of her grandmother. She recalled her grandmother saying there was much opportunity in America; and in a lighter moment recalled that her grandmother had hopes that she one day might not be a migrant worker (as was much of her family), but a “secretary.” Contreras-Sweet was the California Secretary of Business, Housing, and Transportation Agency. Not quite the secretary her grandmother had envisioned. She was named as Administrator to the SBA in April of this year by President Barack Obama. Contreras-Sweet remarked about the opportunities she has had and has seen and highlighted some of the accomplishments of the candidates for citizenship and encouraged them to follow their dreams.
After the oath of allegiance, the new citizens led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and one by one walked up to accept their certificates.
The All Children’s Chorus of Annapolis closed out the morning ceremony with America and America the Beautiful. Afterward, the grounds of the William Paca House and Garden were open and free tours of the first floor were offered.