On Thursday July 29, I attended my second Naturalization Ceremony, this time at Bucks County’s Historic Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. It’s apparent these ceremonies that bring new citizens in to America, are distinctively unique: Pennsbury’s was different from the one I attended last month in Lancaster County as posted on my July 14, 2016 blog: —The American Fabric.
I was looking forward to the Naturalization ceremony at Pennsbury Manor. Here there were rows of chairs lined between two majestic columns of towering Maple trees. With the Delaware River flowing lazily behind them and a back drop of William Penn’s Manor in front of them, 46 candidates for citizenship from 21 countries filled the seats with their families or friends sitting next to them. All nations of many shades of skin from many different countries–just as I’d seen at my first Naturalization Ceremony–were prepared to become new citizens of America. Because I’d traveled to Ghana, Egypt and Kenya I was drawn to candidates from that Continent and decided to interview someone from the Motherland: Hassane Yarra.
Formerly from Mali, West Africa Hassane arrived in America in 1999. I was able to speak with him after the ceremony when Pennsbury re-enactors gathered around him, the tallest of all the candidates with his rich dark skin and corn rows sprouting from the crown of his head. Interviewing him was an opportunity to share with my followers another story of an immigrant who chose America as his Home.
After Hassane graduated from high school he entered college in 2012 on two scholarships–Soccer and a second one for Track and Field. He is currently studying at the University of Pennsylvania for his Masters in Finance. Hassane described how voting happens in his former country of Mali. A paper ballot, printed only with the name of the President requires the voter to place a YES or NO in the respective block. With election ‘officials’ watching the voter, “if an X is marked in the NO box that person may disappear and never be seen again.”
How fortunate are we!
Three Judges from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania presided over the Pennsbury Manor ceremony. They shared stories of their ancestors who arrived in America in the late 1800s and 1900s and each of them encouraged the new citizens to engage in the civic responsibilities of voting and serving on a jury.
If you are able to attend a future Naturalization Ceremony, do so. It will renew your respect and pride for America.
The League of Women Voters of Bucks County had set up tables for the new citizens to fill out voter registration applications. Hassane was one of over two dozen new Americans who took the time to complete the application. Still others carried the forms home with them.
The last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania is Tuesday October 11. For more information contact the League of Women Voters, Bucks County at 215.230.9986. Every vote matters, especially in this Presidential election.
Vote in Every Election. Still matters, always matters.