U.S. will welcome new citizens at ceremony at Wright Memorial
By JOY CRIST
naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens is planned at the Wright
Brothers National Memorial on April 16 at 3 p.m. Although these
ceremonies are often held at national parks all across the country, the
event is the first of its kind for the Outer Banks – and hopefully the
start of a new tradition here.
idea for the Wright Brothers Naturalization Ceremony stemmed from the
year-long celebration of the National Park Service’s Centennial. The
goal of the celebration is to highlight parks all across the country,
but also outline a plan for the future of the parks for the next 100
aim is effectively divvied up into four “Call to Action” categories --
Connecting People to Parks, Advancing the NPS Education Mission,
Preserving America's Special Places, and Enhancing Professional and
Organizational Excellence. Each of these broad goals are effectively
broken down further to create smaller and more concrete plans.
to Dan Shook, interpretive ranger at the Wright Brothers Memorial, the
local naturalization ceremony fits under “Connecting People to Parks,”
and its subcategories of both connecting people to parks in their own
backyard and enhancing and developing lifelong connections with local
parks – especially for people in densely populated areas.
want to create an awareness of outdoor experiences that are close to
home,” explains Shook. “Most people think of national parks as massive
landscapes, like Yosemite National Park or the Grand Canyon, and we
want people to know there are amazing national parks in their own
setting of this upcoming naturalization is appropriate outside of the
Centennial Celebration as well, considering that the story of the first
flight, and the Wright Brothers Memorial is certainly a source of
Wright Brothers [Memorial] is an inspirational spot to introduce people
to this country,” says Shook. “These new citizens went on an amazing
journey, and there were probably many times they wanted to quit – just
like Wilbur and Orville did....“But this site represents where hard
work will take you.”
NPS and United States Customs and Immigration Service have had a formal
partnership for many years in order to hold naturalization ceremonies
while introducing citizens to culturally significant sites.
this ceremony, the NPS and the Raleigh / Durham office of the USCIS
sought out soon-to-be new U.S. citizens who lived in between Raleigh
and the Outer Banks. “We told them how much space we had, and they
started looking at candidates [in the eastern part of the state] -- so
it’s close to home, and the attendees are all local people.”
The final list for the upcoming April 16 ceremony includes 40 new citizens who hail from at least 15 different countries.
public is welcome to attend and will be admitted to the Wright Brothers
Memorial for free, as April 16 is also the kick-off day for National
Park Service week – during which admission to all national parks across
the country will be waived until April 23.
And as the icing on the cake, April 16 also just so happens to be Wilbur Wright’s Birthday.
local civics classes have been contacted to attend the ceremony, and
the NPS is also looking to recruit local school band members to play
the National Anthem.
full roster of activities are slated for the day, which includes
special programs and talks at the main visitors’ center every hour on
the hour from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
ceremony itself will be held in a temporary tent that will be erected
for the occasion, with chairs for the attendees and their families, and
ample standing room for anyone who wants to look on to see democracy in
ceremony lasts a total of 45 minutes, and begins with the National
Anthem and the presentation of colors, followed by welcoming remarks
from the USCIS Raleigh / Durham field office director, and a
short video welcoming attendees to the ceremony.
keynote address will be delivered by Outer Banks Group Park
Superintendent, David E. Hallac, which will then be followed by the
Call of Nations – an integral part of the ceremony during which all
citizens stand up and announce what country they are originally from.
that, the new citizens will take an oath of allegiance, followed by a
crowd-wide recitation of the pledge of allegiance, and the ceremony
will conclude with videotaped remarks from the President of the United
It’s a short ceremony, but an important one, and it fits in perfectly with the broader agenda of the Centennial Celebration.
of the biggest tie-ins to the future of our National Park Service is
that we’re reaching out to new people,” says Shook. “These people might
be coming from nations that have nothing like [the National Park
system], and we want them to know that it’s not your park, or my park,
it’s our park. These are your special places.”
If all goes well, the National Park Service is hopeful that this inaugural ceremony will be the first of many down the road.
always wanted to do it here, so we hope that this will be a partnership
for many years to come,” says Shook. “We would like this to be
something we can continue to do in the future, for sure.”