When Navy enlisted man Reginald Cherubin applied for a special mission in Iraq, he was told he needed to be a United States citizen to be eligible. Cherubin, a native of Haiti, had been in the Navy for years but it dawned on him that citizenship would open more doors in his Naval career so he applied for citizenship. It was a move that put him among 100 people from 42 different nations at the swearing-in ceremony in the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens on May 21.
Cherubin sat in the front row with fellow military personnel from the Marines and Army.
The swearing-in ceremony took place on the Mount Vernon lawn, overlooking the Potomac River, with representatives from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, the Presidential office and the George Washington Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in attendance. The Mount Vernon lawn provided a patriotic backdrop, and a way to thank George Washington for all he did to establish a nation, said Mrs. P. William Moore, Jr., the president of the Ladies Association.
Dr. Emilio T. Gonzalez, the Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, came to the United States at age 9, and worked his way to the high level position he has now. He remembered taking the oath years ago, and led the new residents in reciting it. Only in America can an immigrant, like me, become the one giving the oath, he said.
Gonzalez encouraged the new residents to vote, go on jury duty and become active citizens. Im from a state where people die trying to come to America, he said, do not take your citizenship lightly.
Bharath Srinivasan is a computer expert from India that noted the opportunities that come with citizenship. I can travel. This is the land of opportunity, you earn more than you did in India, he said.
Elizabeth Jacob was in the audience watching her mother get her certificate. Her mother, Sosamma Jacob, also from India, was a nutrition expert at the Loudoun County School System and Elizabeth just got a job in the U.S. Government as a medical support assistant at Walter Reed Hospital. I applied for a federal job and got it, she said.
The Marine Band went through a medley of patriotic songs including The Star Spangled Banner, America The Beautiful and God Bless America. A message from President George Bush was piped in, showing his support.
The United States of America welcomes new citizens. Today the United States is not only your home, it is your country, said Bush in a taped message.
Liza Wright, the Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel, noted the presidents support even in the midst of an immigration bill currently on the Hill. It took a great deal of courage from leaders on both sides of the aisle, she said.
Rosana Elizabeth Rodriguez, from Guatemala, clutched her certificate after the ceremony. For the last six years, she has been a nanny for a family in Old Town, and she was aware of the immigration legislation. I see its a good start, said Rodriguez.
Now that Cherubin is a citizen, he intends to step up the call to duty. I want to go to Iraq, theres a lot of us needed out there, he said.